- Rising Obesity Linked to Increase in Diabetes

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Rising Obesity Linked to Increase in Diabetes

      DIABETES among adults increased rapidly during the 1990s in the United States and the cause may be the increase in obesity among adults, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      According to the findings, there was a 33 percent increase in the number of diagnosed U.S. diabetes cases from 1990 to 1998. There was a 70 percent increase among adults ages 30-39, a 40 percent increase among adults ages 40-49 and a 31 percent increase among adults ages 50-59.

      Increases were also noted for different ethnic groups, with a 38 percent increase among Hispanics, a 29 percent increase among whites and a 26 percent increase among blacks.

      The prevalence of obesity among adults also increased rapidly during the same time period, which researchers said may have been a reason for the increase in diabetes.

      "We need to take diabetes very seriously as individuals and as a nation," said CDC Director Jeffrey P. Koplan, MD, MPH. "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."

      Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to CDC. It is also a major factor in the cause of many health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Every year, approximately 800,000 new cases are diagnosed.

      The increase in obesity among adults may have a great impact on the rate of diabetes cases and the need for care in the future, according to the study. Obesity is a leading contributor to type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes. As type 2 diabetes may not show up for several years after the onset of obesity, the full impact of the prevalence of diabetes in American society may not be felt for several years to come, the study reported.

      Physicians and health care professionals should take an active role in increasing awareness of the threat of diabetes and the resulting physical challenges of those diagnosed with the disease, the study authors noted.

      While diabetes can cause major health problems, a healthy diet and physical activity, along with regular visits to a physician, can alleviate many health problems, according to CDC.

      "With diabetes increasing at an alarming rate, it is critical that everyone who has the disease remain in regular contact with his or her health care professional for monitoring and treatment," said Frank Vinicor, MD, director of CDC''s diabetes program. "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."

Copyright American Public Health Association Oct 2000

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