Tuesday, December 01, 2015

New diabetes cases in the U.S. are on the decline; first substantial decline in 25 years

For the first time in decades, diabetes cases in the U.S. are on the decline, Sabrina Tavernise reports for The New York Times. In 2014, the number of new cases of diabetes in the U.S. was 1.4 million, down from 1.7 million in 2008, according to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's "the first sustained decline since the disease started to explode in this country about 25 years ago."

Diabetes is one of the symptoms of obesity, an epidemic that has been particularly bad in rural areas. Seven of the top 10 most obese states are in the South, and 23 of the top 25 are in the South or Midwest, led by Arkansas with an obesity rate of 35.9 percent. The obesity epidemic is costing taxpayers $147 billion to $210 billion each year. (CDC graphic: Annual number of new cases of diagnosed diabetes in adults 18-79 from 1980-2014)

While experts say the percent of Americans with diabetes is still more than double what it was in the early 1990s, "there is growing evidence that eating habits, after decades of deterioration, have finally begun to improve," Tavernise writes. "The amount of soda Americans drink has declined by about a quarter since the late 1990s, and the average number of daily calories children and adults consume also has fallen. Physical activity has started to rise, and once-surging rates of obesity, a major driver of Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, have flattened. Type 1 diabetes, often diagnosed in childhood and adolescence and not usually associated with excess body weight, was also included in the data."

Dr. David M. Nathan, the director of the Diabetes Center and Clinical Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Tavernise, “It has finally entered into the consciousness of our population that the sedentary lifestyle is a real problem, that increased body weight is a real problem.” (Read more)

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