New Report Chronicles Prevalence of Diabetes in U.S.

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Menopause seems to be a time when you have to face life straight-on and deal with the realization that your life is changing and some things that you hold dear are fading. As I’ve mentioned before, some of these changes are related to the menopausal transition (such as the end of the menstrual period). But other changes are related to aging. And one of those is type 2 diabetes. This disease can sneak up on middle-age women if you’re not paying attention. And a new report out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quantifies the increasing threat of this disease as we age.


    The report, Diabetes Report Card 2012: National and State Profile of Diabetes and Its Complications, points out that the chance of getting type 2 diabetes increases sharply with age for all adults in the United States today. Interestingly, the number of new cases didn’t change much between 1980-1990, but began to increase in 1992; in fact, the number of new cases almost tripled between 1990-2010. The CDC believes that this increase in the number of type 2 diabetes is associated with increased obesity, a decline in physical activity and aging. The CDC projects that if current trends continue, as many as one in three adults in the U.S. could have this disease by 2050. The study also found that most minority populations in the United States are more likely to develop diabetes than white, non-Hispanic populations.

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    The states with the highest percentage of adults diagnosed with diabetes in 2010 were Mississippi (11.3 percent), Alabama (11.1 percent), West Virginia (10.7 percent), Louisiana (10.3 percent), Tennessee (10.2 percent), Oklahoma (10.1 percent), and Kentucky (10.1 percent). The states with the lowest percentage are Vermont (5.8 percent), Colorado (6.0 percent), Minnesota (6.2 percent), Montana (6.2 percent), Alaska (6.3 percent), Connecticut (6.4 percent), South Dakota (6.4 percent), Wyoming (6.6 percent), Rhode Island (6.8 percent) and Iowa (6.9 percent).


    So let’s clarify again what diabetes is. First, there are several types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 5 percent of all diabetes cases and is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. However, this type of diabetes can occur at any time. People with this type of diabetes use insulin from an injection or pump. There is no known way to prevent this type of diabetes. However, Type 2 diabetes – which accounts for approximately 95 percent of cases diagnosed in adults – can be controlled or even delayed through healthy eating, regular physical exercise and, if prescribed, medications. There’s also gestational diabetes, which develops when a woman is pregnant and can cause health problems during pregnancy for both the mother and child. Furthermore, women who have had gestational diabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The CDC notes that women who had gestational diabetes have a 35-60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 10-20 years.


    The CDC report also looks at prediabetes. The study’s authors found that although approximately one-third of U.S. adults have prediabetes, awareness of this condition is low since fewer than one in 10 U.S. adults with prediabetes reported that they had ever been told that they have this condition. This is important information because the progression to type 2 diabetes is not inevitable for this group. In fact, studies have shown that by losing between 5-7 percent of body weight and getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.


  • The CDC breaks down the percentage of U.S. adults who have been told they have prediabetes by state. The states with the highest percentage are Tennessee (10.2 percent), California (8.0 percent), Hawaii (7.5 percent), Kentucky 7.2 percent), Idaho (7.3 percent), Alabama (7.0 percent) and Alaska (7.0 percent). The states with the lowest percentage of adults being warned of prediabetes include Montana (4.7 percent), Massachusetts (4.8 percent), Wyoming (4.8 percent), Utah (5.1 percent), South Dakota (5.2 percent), Ohio (5.3 percent), Connecticut (5.3 percent), and Iowa (5.4 percent). Data was not available from Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Washington.

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    Don’t think that this last breakdown is good news because there are low levels of prediabetes. Instead, it may mean that doctors are not having this conversation with patients or that some of these adults are not seeing doctors at all.


    This report provides fodder for you to have a good and honest conversation with your doctor about your risk of type 2 diabetes. And it also provides a good incentive to continue eating a healthy diet and exercising as you move into the next phase of your life.


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    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012).  Diabetes report card 2012: National and state profile of diabetes and its complications.

Published On: August 24, 2012