A new study shows that diabetes rates may be leveling off in the U.S. But are all Americans in the clear as far as diabetes goes?

Reuters reports on the new study.

Some health officials say that the rates have definitely gone down. But others say one group is still at a high risk.

What were the results of the study?

Experts were happy to find that not much changed in the prevalence and incidence of diabetes rates in Americans between 2008 and 2012, after major increases in both numbers between 1990 and 2008.

Dr. Albright who co-authored the study told Reuters,

“We are now for the first time showing that (those rates are) slowing down. We’re encouraged by that but it also means that we need to continue to watch this and make sure it’s not just a blip, to make sure we can sustain this and ultimately reverse this trend.”

Albright has done much research in this area. She is the director of the Division of Diabetes Translation, which is located at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She co-wrote the report, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week.

But Albright said despite the favorable initial results, she still has much more work to do in the area of diabetes. Not all groups of Americans have lower rates of diabetes right now. The number of new cases has continued to increase among Hispanic Americans and African Americans. Also the report showed that the overall number of diabetes cases got higher among those with less than a high school education.

Dr. Albright said, “The interventions that are effective in treating obesity and preventing type 2 diabetes, we know what those are. We need to be implementing them on a wider scale if we’re going to turn this tide.”

How many fatalities does diabetes cause in the United States?

The study showed that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. but is often underreported on death certificates. The disease also costs the country around $245 billion each year. Around 29 million Americans, approximately 9 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes. A little over thirty percent of those people have not even been diagnosed by a physician.

Dr. Albright further said, “The improvement that we make in obesity and the diabetes prevention work that we do, these are all going to be contributing to slowing the rate. Ultimately we want to reverse these (rates).”

Which type of diabetes is more prevalent?

Type 2 diabetes is the most commonly occurring form of diabetes and is usually linked to obesity. What happens in type 2 diabetes? In this form, the body's cells are resistant to the hormone insulin, or the body does not make enough of that hormone. Why is insulin important? It gives blood sugar access to the body's cells to be utilized in the form of energy. So when does Type 1 diabetes occur? Type 1 diabetes usually appears in childhood or adolescence and results from a failure to make insulin in the pancreas, the organ designated for insulin creation.

Reuters reports,

“The new study found that in 1990, 3.5 of every 100 people had either type of diabetes, and by 2008, that number had climbed to 7.9 per 100. But as of 2012, it had risen only slightly, to 8.3 per 100. As for the number of new cases each year, the researchers found it went from 3.2 per 1,000 people in 1990 to 8.8 per 1,000 people in 2008. It then fell to 7.1 per 1,000 people in 2012.”

CBS also reported on the study.

CBS discusses the difficulties introduced by the report such as the increase in obesity and thereby the increase in diabetes rates amongst those people as well as the increase in Mexican Americans and African Americans.

But CBS also highlights the overall big picture positive aspect of the report. “’The fact that the total number of people with diabetes has risen slightly is not necessarily a bad thing’, said Dr. Robert Ratner, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association. It shows that ‘we've had an impact on death rates,’ he explained. ‘People with diabetes are living longer and living healthier’,” according to CBS. 

The experts at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are insisting that doctors advise over weight and obese patients to change their lifestyle in a healthy way, as this is a great way to stave off diabetes.

Gerry Oginski
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