Diabetes Growth May Be Slowing

Diabetes still increasing among young adults, Hispanics and blacks, despite overall slowdown

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) After nearly two decades of rapid growth in the number of Americans with diabetes — likely driven by obesity and low levels of physical activity — that public health trend could be changing.

National statistics indicate that the number of US adults with diabetes may be leveling off, according to a new study.

Although the overall number may be reaching a plateau, diabetes cases are still on the rise among younger adults, Hispanics and blacks.

“This threatens to exacerbate racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in diabetes prevalence and incidence,” wrote a team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Linda S. Geiss, MA, and colleagues at the CDC office in Atlanta, GA, used data collected from 1980 to 2012 to study trends in diabetes cases.

Diabetes occurs when the body either doesn’t produce (type 1) or doesn’t respond (type 2) to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that moves blood sugar into cells.

Diabetes patients have to track their blood sugar levels and, in some cases, inject insulin as needed.

Geiss and team reviewed data from 664,969 adults between 20 and 79 years old.

There wasn’t a significant change during the 1980s, but the authors found that diagnoses more than doubled between 1990 and 2008.

In 1990, 3.5 out of every 100 people had diabetes, according to the authors of the report. In 2008, 7.9 out of every 100 people had diabetes.

By 2012, 8.3 out of every 100 people had diabetes.

The authors wrote that the large increases in the past decades could be the result of an aging population, the growth of at-risk minority populations, increased obesity or sedentary lifestyles. In turn, they cited slowing obesity rates as possible reasons for the more recent slowdown in diabetes cases.

The authors found that the rate of diabetes cases continued to increase for younger adults (aged 20 to 44), black adults and Hispanic adults.

In 1997, 6.9 percent of Hispanic adults had diabetes. That figure grew to 12.5 percent in 2012. In the same time period, cases of diabetes in black adults grew from 9.5 to 9.9 percent.

The research was published online Sept. 23 in JAMA

The National Center for Health Statistics and the CDC provided the data used in the research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 23, 2014
Last Updated:
September 25, 2014