Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Diabetes is less deadly than it once was, but improvement in rural areas has faded in recent years

Diabetes mortality over time by rurality. The study grouped categories according to the National Center for Health Statistics' system. (Texas A&M chart; click the image to enlarge it.)
"The life expectancy of Americans with diabetes is diverging based on geography, with metropolitan areas seeing improvement in mortality rates while rural areas do not," Tim Marema reports for The Daily Yonder. That's according to a recently published study by researchers from the Southwest Rural Health Research Center at Texas A&M's School of Public Health.

Rates for diabetes mortality were very similar in rural and urban areas as recently as 1999, but urban areas have improved since then. Rural areas, especially in the South, have seen little improvement though. "From 1999 to 2016, diabetes mortality rates improved by 5.1 points in the central counties of metros larger than 1 million residents. In 'non-core' counties – the most 'rural' category in the study – the mortality rate improved by only 0.85 points during the same period," Marema reports.

The decline in diabetes mortality wasn't because fewer people have the disease; diabetes mortality declined in some areas where the incidence of diabetes remains high. "Possible causes are advancements in diabetes treatment or education, which may have been adopted at different rates in different regions," Marema reports. "The study also said future research should look at the possible roles played by the Affordable Care Act or Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit that went into effect in 2006."

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