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A dramatic rise in the rate of diabetes reported

graphic June 15, 1998
Web posted at: 8:27 a.m. EDT (1227 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- For the past decade, the rate of the most common type of diabetes has been rising dramatically. Between 1987 and 1996, the incidence of type 2 diabetes rose by nine percent per year, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The findings were based on results from the San Antonio Heart Study and presented at the group's 58th Annual Scientific Sessions on Sunday, June 14.~

Researchers say the reason for the surge is partly because Americans are getting older and fatter, and possibly because of the country's decline in physical activity and some undefined changes in the American diet such as an increase in fat consumption.

Almost 16 million Americans have diabetes which is basically a group of serious diseases characterized by high blood sugar levels that result from the body's inability to make or use insulin. Diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, heart disease or amputations, and it can be fatal.

Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in those who are age 45 and older and those who are overweight. Many people with type 2 diabetes can be treated with diet and drugs

Researchers are concerned that diabetes and obesity are likely to emerge as the preeminent public health problems at the turn of the century. The diseases would have a significant impact of deaths from heart disease. Since the 1960's, death from heart disease has been declining.

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