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U.S. Diabetes Prevalence Soars

The prevalence of diabetes has risen sharply in the U.S. and its territories since 1995, government researchers said.

From 1995 to 2010, the median age-adjusted prevalence of diagnosed diabetes for all 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and Puerto Rico rose from 4.5% to 8.2% Linda Geiss, MA, of the CDC, and colleagues reported in the Nov. 16 issue of Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

It increased a full percentage point just in the last 5 years of the study period, the researchers found. In 2005, the prevalence stood at 7.2%.

The 15-year upward trend “coincides with the increase in obesity prevalence across the U.S,” they wrote, and “is likely the result of improved survival of persons with diabetes and increasing diabetes incidence.”

To assess the increase in diabetes prevalence and whether it varies by region, Geiss and colleagues looked at data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) collected from 1995 to 2010.

They found that the age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes rose in all states, D.C., and Puerto Rico during that time.

In 1995, for instance, diabetes prevalence was greater than 6% in only three states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, but by 2010 it was greater than 6% in every state and these two territories.

In 2010, prevalence was highest among states in the South (9.8%) followed by those in the Midwest (7.5%), the Northeast (7.3%), and the West (7.3%), the researchers said.

Specifically, prevalence was highest (above 10%) in Alabama, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia, and was lowest (below 7%) in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Vermont, and Wyoming, they reported.

Median percentage increases over the 15-year period by region were also highest in the South, at 104.2%. In the other three regions, the median increases were 62.2% in the Northeast, 66.7% in the Midwest, and 82.5% in the West.

The high prevalences in the South and Appalachian regions were probably due to the greater prevalence of risk factors for diabetes in these areas, such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle, Geiss and colleagues wrote.

Also, these locations have a larger proportion of African Americans, a group at increased risk for the disease, as well as other factors that contribute to poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyles, they added.

Primary source: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report  

Source reference: Geiss LS, et al “Increasing prevalence of diagnosed diabetes  –  United States and Puerto Rico, 1995-2010″ MMWR 2012; 61(45): 918-921.


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