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Diabetes cases are growing substantially

Researchers warn of 'chronic epidemic'


ATLANTA (CNN) -- Americans have been getting diabetes at an alarming rate over the past 10 years, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 16 million people in the United States have diabetes now, about a third more than had the disease in 1990. Increases were reported among all adults, but the most dramatic increase -- a 70 percent jump -- was seen in people aged 30 to 39. Among those 40 to 49, the rate of diabetes increased by 40 percent, and it was up 31 percent for those 50 to 59.

The increases among younger age groups are especially worrying, researchers say.

“That means more and more people are going to face longer and longer lives with diabetes,” said Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of the CDC’s diabetes program. “In the year 2025, we are talking (that) somewhere in the range of 25 million people in the U.S. will have diabetes.”

The American Diabetes Association has the latest information on living with diabetes

A big part of the problems is that Americans themselves are getting bigger. Diabetes has long been linked to obesity, and the increasing ranks of overweight Americans could signal future increases in disease rates as well. And because there is often a substantial delay between weight gain and the development of diabetes, this pattern is likely to continue for some time.

“We are all gaining weight,” continued Vinicor. “And we are all being less active, and that is what is accounting for this apparently chronic disease epidemic.

CDC director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan said the time to get serious about diabetes is now.

“This study sends a clear message that American lifestyles, including inactivity and poor nutrition, are having a dramatic influence on our health and will ultimately increase the need for diabetes care in the future,” Koplan said.

The seventh-leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes is a major factor in heart disease, stroke, blindness, high blood pressure, kidney disease and amputations. About 800,000 new diabetes cases are diagnosed each year. In 1997, health care costs associated with the disease were estimated at $98 billion.

Vinicor says our sedentary society is a factor in the rise in diabetes
WAV file

Diabetes also is a disease that crosses racial and ethnic lines with equal energy. During the study period of 1990 to 1998, Hispanics experienced the highest rate of increase with 38 percent. There was a 29 percent increase among whites and a 26 percent increase among African-Americans.

In 1998, Oklahoma had the highest rate of diabetes at just over 9 percent, while Arizona showed the lowest rate, just under 3 percent. Minnesota experienced the highest eight-year rate of increase at 94 percent, according to the study.

Still, even for those who already have the disease, there is hope, researchers noted.

“It is critical that everyone who has the disease remain in regular contact with his or her health care professional for monitoring and treatment,” Vinicor added. “Scientific studies clearly show that even if diabetes is present, complications such as blindness, amputations, kidney failure and heart attacks do not have to occur if intensive diabetes management can be achieved.”

CNN Medical Correspondent Rhonda Rowland contributed to this report.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Diabetes Public Health Resource
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International

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