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Diabetes on the Rise in the U.S.

Posted: Monday, November 09, 2009

Diabetes cases are rising rapidly in the U.S., with the disease afflicting 11.3% of American adults as of the third quarter of 2009, according to a new Gallup survey. That’s an increase from 10.4% measured in the first quarter of last year.

That means about 26 million Americans have diabetes. Gallup notes if current trends continue, more than 37 million will be living with the disease by the end of 2015.

Not coincidentally, the survey shows the U.S. obesity rate is up about 1 percentage point in quarter-over-quarter comparisons to 2008.

According to Gallup, Americans who are obese are almost three times as likely as those who aren’t to be diagnosed with diabetes.

“The upward trends in obesity rates almost certainly play a substantive role in the increase in diabetes rates over the same time period,” the Gallup survey states. “More than one-fifth of obese adults [have diabetes]” — or 21.2%, compared to 7.4% of non-obese people of comparable ages.

The survey, echoing results of many studies, says one of the best ways to reduce obesity is to exercise. Between January and September 2009, it reports a sharply higher incidence of diabetes among those who didn’t exercise at least a half hour on any given day in the previous week.

According to Gallup:

  • 8% percent Americans with diabetes exercised at least 30 minutes a day, four to six times per week.
  • 9.5% exercised at least half an hour daily in the previous week.
  • 15% did not exercise at least 30 minutes in the week before they were surveyed.

“While exercise is seasonal and is expected to climb in the warmer months, even though diabetes is not a seasonal disease, year-over-year comparisons reveal a 2009 decline of 2.7 points in the percentage of American adults who say they are exercising at least 30 minutes three or more times per week, compared with 2008,” according to the Gallup organization.

The 10 states with the highest increases in obesity from 2008-2009 have, on average, also seen a related increase of 0.5 percentage points in diabetes incidence, the survey shows. These states are Wyoming, Alaska, Minnesota, Maine, Idaho, Tennessee, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Texas.

The 10 states whose obesity rates have remained unchanged or decreased since 2008 have seen an average reduction in reported diabetes incidence of 0.3 percentage points. These states — Delaware, Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Louisiana, Virginia, Missouri, Nevada and Florida — provide examples for future study to learn more about managing diabetes nationally, according to Gallup.

The report was based on telephone interviews with 623,538 adults, 18 or older, conducted from January to September 2009.