Diabetes May Be a Community Issue

Diabetes rates increased most dramatically in southern and Appalachian states

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) November is American Diabetes Month - a time of the year when the American Diabetes Association increases its efforts to raise awareness of this serious disease. New research suggests diabetes rates are growing fast.

Over the past two decades, rates of diabetes have gone up in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to a recent study from the CDC.

This study's results indicate health issues, such as diabetes, may be influenced by local traditions and environments.

"Take action in your community to stop diabetes."

Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, and colleagues found that rates of diabetes increased by 50 percent or more in 42 states. A total of 18 states had diabetes rates increase by at least 100 percent.

The study's results revealed which states had the largest increases in rates of diabetes. These states included:

  • Oklahoma, with an increase of 226 percent
  • Kentucky, with an increase of 158 percent
  • Georgia, with an increase of 145 percent
  • Alabama, with an increase of 140 percent
  • Washington, with an increase of 135 percent

"Regionally, we saw the largest increase in diagnosed diabetes [rates] in the South, followed by the West, Midwest and Northeast," said Geiss. The researchers found that Puerto Rico and six other states had diabetes rates of 10 percent or more.

"These data also reinforce findings from previous studies, which indicate that the [rate] of diagnosed diabetes is highest in the southern and Appalachian states," she said.

For their study, the researchers looked at data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System - a yearly survey of health behaviors and conditions of Americans aged 18 years and older.

"In 1995, only three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had a diagnosed diabetes [rate] of 6 percent or more. By 2010, all 50 states had a [rate] of more than 6 percent" explained Dr. Albright.

"These rates will continue to increase until effective interventions and policies are implemented to prevent both diabetes and obesity," she said.

Obesity is the leading cause of diabetes worldwide. As rates of obesity have increased among Americans, so too have rates of type 2 diabetes. About 90 to 95 percent of all cases of diabetes in the US are type 2 diabetes.

Since it is American Diabetes Month, it is a time to boost awareness about diabetes prevention. The CDC and its partners run the National Diabetes Prevention Program - an effort to bring evidence-based programs to communities to prevent type 2 diabetes.

The program is designed to improve treatment and outcomes of diabetes patients, push for early diagnosis and prevent or slow the onset of type 2 diabetes.

The CDC report appears online at the CDC's website.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 14, 2012
Last Updated:
May 10, 2013