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Diabetes Appears to be Leveling Off in U.S.

Prevalence continues to increase for some subgroups, like young adults; incidence rate up for Hispanic, black adults

word "Diabetes" highlighted in reportSept. 23, 2014 – The incidence and prevalence of diabetes, which doubled in the U.S. from 1990-2008 appears to have leveled off between 2008 and 2012, according to a new study in JAMA. Prevalence continued to increase at a significantly greater rate for young adults aged 20 to 44 years compared to older Americans. The incidence rate continued to increase in Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adults.

Incidence rates also continued to increase at a greater rate for the young adult group – 20 to 44 - compared with those aged 45 to 64 years, but not the senior group.

The earlier rapid increases have often been blamed on the large increase in the senior citizen population – the age group where diabetes is most prevalent. The researchers speculate that the recent slowing in diabetes cases may be due to a decrease in the rate of obesity, according to their report in the September 24 issue of JAMA.


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Editor's Note: Getting old is challenge enough but almost one in four senior citizens in the U.S. also has to cope with the challenges of Type 2 diabetes. Learn more about diabetes below - insert in news report.

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Although there has been an increase in the prevalence and incidence of diabetes in the United States in recent decades, no studies have systematically examined long-term, national trends of this disease, according to background information in the article.

 (See "About Diabetes" below news story.)

Linda S. Geiss, M.A., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed 1980-2012 data for 664,969 adults ages 20 to 79 years from the National Health Interview Survey and determined the annual percentage change in rates of the prevalence and incidence of diagnosed diabetes (type 1 and type 2 combined).

Demographic variables included age (grouped into 20-44, 45- 64, and 65-79 years of age), sex, race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black,andHispanic),and educational level (<high school, high school, and >high school). Race/ ethnicities other than non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic were included in total counts but not analyzed separately because of small sample sizes.

During 1980-2012, the trends in age-adjusted prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the overall population were similar to those for age-adjusted incidence.

   >> The prevalence per 100 persons was 3.5 in 1990, 7.9 in 2008, and 8.3 in 2012.

   >> The incidence per 1,000 persons was 3.2 in 1990, 8.8 in 2008, and 7.1 in 2012.

   >> Both prevalence and incidence increased sharply during 1990-2008 (for prevalence, 4.5 percent, for incidence, 4.7 percent) before leveling off with no significant change during 2008-2012 (for prevalence, 0.6 percent, for incidence, -5-4 percent).

The researchers speculate that reasons for the potential slowing of the increase in diabetes may include a slowing in the rate of obesity, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Incidence and prevalence of diabetes ceased growing or leveled off in many population subgroups. Incidence continued to increase, however, in Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adults and prevalence continued to grow among those with a high school education or less.

“This threatens to exacerbate racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in diabetes prevalence and incidence. Furthermore, in light of the well-known excess risk of amputation, blindness, end-stage renal disease, disability, mortality, and health care costs associated with diabetes, the doubling of diabetes incidence and prevalence ensures that diabetes will remain a major public health problem that demands effective prevention and management programs,” the authors write.

About Diabetes (MedlinePlus)

Diabetes expected to increase in U.S. due to booming population of senior citizens

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy.

With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well.

Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. It can damage your eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Diabetes can also cause heart disease, stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Pregnant women can also get diabetes, called gestational diabetes.

A blood test can show if you have diabetes. Exercise, weight control and sticking to your meal plan can help control your diabetes. You should also monitor your glucose level and take medicine if prescribed.

Type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, especially in people who are overweight, and occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, some Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos. National survey data in 2007 indicate a range in the prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in various populations ages 20 years or older:

>> Age 60 years or older: 12.2 million, or 23.1 percent, of all people in this age group have diabetes.

>> Age 20 years or older: 23.5 million, or 10.7 percent, of all people in this age group have diabetes.

>> Men: 12.0 million, or 11.2 percent, of all men ages 20 years or older have diabetes.

>> Women: 11.5 million, or 10.2 percent, of all women ages 20 years or older have diabetes.

>> Non-Hispanic whites: 14.9 million, or 9.8 percent, of all non-Hispanic whites ages 20 years or older have diabetes.

>> Non-Hispanic blacks: 3.7 million, or 14.7 percent, of all non-Hispanic blacks ages 20 years or older have diabetes.

Diabetes to Increase with Aging Population

Diabetes prevalence in the United States is likely to increase for several reasons. First, a large segment of the population is aging.

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


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