Diabetes Risk Rises to 40%, CDC Says

Approximately two out of every five Americans, or 40 percent, born from 2000 to 2011 will develop type 2 diabetes during their lives, according to a new U.S. government study.

The study’s results signal a sharp increase in the prevalence of diabetes, according to Edward Gregg, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The risk of developing diabetes has doubled for U.S. males, based on earlier data that tracked 600,000 adults from 1985 to 2011. In contrast to the latest data showing a 40 percent chance of developing diabetes, men born from 1985 to 1999 had a 21 percent chance of getting the disease, while women had a 27 percent likelihood, according to the research.

The study’s authors point to the obesity epidemic as the biggest driver behind the diabetes risk increasing to 40 percent for both men and women. Doctors have coined the term “diabesity” – a combination of the diabetes and obesity epidemics, the study’s authors say.

The study, published last week in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, did not separate diabetes by type, but the vast majority of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. A person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when their blood glucose (sugar) levels are consistently higher than normal due to your body’s inability to efficiently use or produce insulin. With weight-loss, exercise and treatment, type 2 diabetes can be reversible. In contrast, type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder in which the body is unable to produce insulin,  a key hormone that enables your body to convert food into the energy.

“This study is yet another reminder of the importance of knowing your risk factors, especially blood glucose levels, and the importance of proper dieting and exercise,” said Rosendo Collazo, M.D., an internist with the Baptist Health Medical Group at Baptist Hospital. “People with diabetes are commonly predisposed to having elevated blood pressure levels and high levels of cholesterol, all of which are major contributors to higher rates of heart disease.”

Longer life spans represent another factor in the prevalence of diabetes. The longer you live, the greater the likelihood you’ll develop the disease at some point, especially if lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits persist, researchers said.

The diabetes study wasn’t all bad news. Researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes are living longer than in the past, about two years longer.

Here’s the math: The number of years lost to a diabetes patient diagnosed at age 40 decreased from nearly 8 years in the 1990s to about 6 years in the 2000s for men, and from almost 9 years to just under 7 years for women in the same time span, according to CDC researchers.

Minorities at Higher Risk
The risk of developing diabetes is higher among some minorities. More than half of all Hispanics and non-Hispanic black women born from 2000 to 2011 will develop diabetes in their lifetime, the study found. For black men, the lifetime risk is 45 percent.

A separate study published recently in Diabetes Care found that persons of Hispanic origin living in the U. S. are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The study also broke down the prevalence among certain groups of U.S. Hispanics — 18.3 percent for Mexicans, 10.2 percent for South Americans, 17.7 percent for Central Americans and 18.1 percent for Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. People of Cuban descent fell in the middle with 13.4 percent having type 2 diabetes.

“In South Florida, these statistics really hit home,” Dr. Collazo said. “With such a large population of Hispanic households, there should be greater awareness of the risks of diabetes. For those who are pre-diabetic, or with moderately elevated sugar levels, it’s vital to initiate sustainable lifestyle changes involving diet and exercise. Additionally you should consult with your doctor to help prevent progression to type 2 diabetes.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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