Nearly 10 percent of US adults now have diabetes, study finds

April 15, 2014 by Serena Gordon, Healthday Reporter
Nearly 10 percent of U.S. adults now have diabetes: study
Researchers found a nationwide rise of the disease since late 1980s, and a parallel rise in obesity.

(HealthDay)—The percentage of Americans with diabetes has doubled since 1988, with nearly one in 10 adults now diagnosed with the blood-sugar disease, researchers report.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rate of diagnosed and undiagnosed was 5.5 percent of the U.S. population. By 2010, that number had risen to 9.3 percent. That means 21 million American adults had confirmed diabetes in 2010, according to the researchers.

Several encouraging findings emerged from the study, however. A smaller proportion of people have undiagnosed diabetes, the report found, suggesting that newer screening techniques may be more efficient.

And the researchers found that overall control was improved, although the disease was less well controlled in some minority groups.

"Diabetes has increased dramatically. The rates have almost doubled since the late '80s and early '90s," said Elizabeth Selvin, the study's lead author and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore.

"This study also highlights that the increase in diabetes really tracks closely with the epidemic of obesity. The diabetes epidemic is really a direct consequence of the rise in obesity," Selvin said.

There are two main types of diabetes—type 1 and type 2. Type 2 diabetes is the far more prevalent type of diabetes, accounting for 90 percent to 95 percent of all diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Education Program.

Although both types of the disease result in higher-than-normal levels of blood sugar, the cause of each is different. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, and its development is unrelated to weight. The exact cause of type 2 is unknown, but excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle are known to play a role in its development.

Poorly controlled diabetes poses serious health risks, including heart disease, kidney damage and blindness.

For the new study, the researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which included more than 43,000 adults followed from the first survey period (1988 to 1994) to the most recent (1999 to 2010).

In 1988 to 1994, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was 5.5 percent. By the next survey in 1999 to 2004, that number had risen to 7.6 percent. In the final survey, done from 2005 to 2010, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was 9.3 percent.

During that same time period, levels of obesity also rose. For people without diabetes, obesity rates rose from about 21 percent in the first survey to over 32 percent in the last. In those with diabetes, nearly 44 percent were obese during the first survey. That number rose to about 61 percent in the most recent survey.

Rates of prediabetes also increased dramatically from less than 6 percent to more than 12 percent over the study period. However, the number of people with undiagnosed diabetes leveled off during the study period, likely due to improved screening methods. Overall, the number of people with was reduced to 11 percent by 2010, according to the study.

Other news from the study was that blood sugar management improved among whites, although those gains weren't seen in blacks or Mexican-Americans.

Results of the study appear in the April 15 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"The reality is that we know what to do to prevent , but doing it on a population level is an incredible challenge," Selvin said. "There's some evidence that the obesity epidemic may have plateaued, but combating the environment that contributes to obesity is an incredible difficulty."

Dr. Martin Abrahamson, senior vice president for medical affairs at the Joslin Diabetes Center, in Boston, is a co-author of an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal.

"This article is a reminder that this problem isn't going away; it's only getting worse," Abrahamson said.

Like Selvin, he acknowledged that knowing you need to lose weight and exercise more—and succeeding at making those changes—are a challenge.

"There are too many pushes and pulls in society that make it difficult for people to adhere to lifestyle regimens. Adhering to a healthy diet and exercising regularly have all shown benefit in reducing diabetes, hypertension [high blood pressure], weight and cholesterol," Abrahamson said.

"So, how do you get people to embrace lifestyle changes?" he added. "It's really going to take a multipronged effort that requires private and public institutions to really come together and develop a strategy to advance the message to live a healthy life.

"We also need to engage health-care professionals in doing a better job in counseling the benefits of lifestyle changes," he said.

Abrahamson recommends walking 30 minutes a day at a brisk pace, and trying to lose 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight to help prevent type 2 diabetes. This is especially important if you have been diagnosed with prediabetes.

Both Selvin and Abrahamson said the finding that overall has improved among whites, but not among minorities, suggests that more dollars—for prevention, raising awareness and increasing access to care—need to be targeted to minority communities.

Explore further: Many at risk for diabetes and don't know it, study finds

More information: Learn more about preventing type 2 diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.

Related Stories

Many at risk for diabetes and don't know it, study finds

December 4, 2013
(HealthDay)—New research shows that many Americans who are at risk for type 2 diabetes don't believe they are, and their doctors may not be giving them a clear message about their risk.

Burden of diabetic ketoacidosis still unacceptably high

March 31, 2014
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a life-threatening but preventable condition, remains an important problem for youth with diabetes and their families. Diabetic ketoacidosis is due to a severe lack of insulin and it is often ...

Mediterranean diet may lower risk of diabetes

March 27, 2014
Adoption of a Mediterranean diet is linked to a lower risk of diabetes, especially among people at high risk for cardiovascular disease, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual ...

New ammunition in the fight against type 2 diabetes

April 7, 2014
Gastric banding can play a vital role in the treatment of type 2 diabetes in people who are overweight and not obese, according to new research.

Most patients at diabetes risk consider themselves healthy

January 24, 2014
(HealthDay)—Nearly 80 percent of patients at elevated risk for type 2 diabetes think they are in excellent or very good health, according to a new survey from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Study evaluates prevalence of diabetes among adults in China

September 3, 2013
A study based on a nationally representative sample of adults in China in 2010 indicates that nearly 12 percent of Chinese adults had diabetes and the prevalence of prediabetes was about 50 percent, according to a study in ...

Recommended for you

Genetic discovery may help better identify children at risk for type 1 diabetes

January 17, 2018
Six novel chromosomal regions identified by scientists leading a large, prospective study of children at risk for type 1 diabetes will enable the discovery of more genes that cause the disease and more targets for treating ...

Thirty-year study shows women who breastfeed for six months or more reduce their diabetes risk

January 16, 2018
In a long-term national study, breastfeeding for six months or longer cuts the risk of developing type 2 diabetes nearly in half for women throughout their childbearing years, according to new Kaiser Permanente research published ...

Women who have gestational diabetes in pregnancy are at higher risk of future health issues

January 16, 2018
Women who have gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy have a higher than usual risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease in the future, according to new research led by the ...

Diabetes gene found that causes low and high blood sugar levels in the same family

January 15, 2018
A study of families with rare blood sugar conditions has revealed a new gene thought to be critical in the regulation of insulin, the key hormone in diabetes.

Discovery could lead to new therapies for diabetics

January 12, 2018
New research by MDI Biological Laboratory scientist Sandra Rieger, Ph.D., and her team has demonstrated that an enzyme she had previously identified as playing a role in peripheral neuropathy induced by cancer chemotherapy ...

Enzyme shown to regulate inflammation and metabolism in fat tissue

January 11, 2018
The human body has two primary kinds of fat—white fat, which stores excess calories and is associated with obesity, and brown fat, which burns calories in order to produce heat and has garnered interest as a potential means ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.