The Diabetic Burden

The Diabetic Burden: recently reported some startling findings related to the prevalence of diabetes in America. One in three individuals over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with diabetes, but perhaps the real story is the numbers of individuals diagnosed who are being discovered at a younger age each year.

This report indicates adults younger than 65 have a pre-diabetes diagnosis that stand at about one-third of everyone in this age range. Catherine Cowie Ph.D., lead author of the report indicated, “We’re facing a diabetes epidemic that shows no signs of abating, judging from the number of individuals with pre-diabetes.”

This startling information is part of a survey conducted by the National institute of Health and offers the following analysis…

  • The rate of diagnosed diabetes increased between the surveys, but the prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes remained relatively stable.
  • Minority groups continue to bear a disproportionate burden. The prevalence of diabetes, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, in non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican- Americans is about 70 to 80 percent higher than that of non-Hispanic whites.
  • Diabetes prevalence was virtually the same in men and women, as was the proportion of undiagnosed cases.
  • Pre-diabetes is more common in men than in women (36 percent compared to 23 percent).
  • Diabetes is rare in youth ages 12 to 19 years, but about 16 percent have pre-diabetes.

Researchers believe that a significant rise in obesity is the most probable culprit in the rise of diabetes in the U.S. They refer to this as an epidemic that will have, “Grave implications for our health care system.”

Ed Gregg, Ph.D. of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said, “These findings of yet another increase in diabetes prevalence are a reminder that a full-scale public health response is in order. Re-directing the trends in diabetes will require changing the nutritional and physical activity habits of people at risk, and also creative and substantial efforts by health systems and communities.”

The struggle will be the change in attitude and action related to the disease. It seems as if there is a general dread of the disease without a strong enough motivation to do much to personally change the outcome.

This report further suggests that the following would make a great checklist to see if you might be due for testing.

  • Are age 45 or older
  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are overweight
  • Are inactive (exercise less than three times a week)
  • Are members of a high-risk ethnic population (e.g., African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian American, Pacific Islander)
  • Have high blood pressure: 140/90 mm/Hg or higher
  • Have an HDL cholesterol less than 35 mg/dL or a triglyceride level 250 mg/dL or higher
  • Have had diabetes that developed during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome, a metabolic disorder that affects the female reproductive system
  • Have acanthosis nigricans (dark, thickened skin around neck or armpits)
  • Have a history of disease of the blood vessels to the heart, brain, or legs
  • Have had higher-than-normal blood glucose levels on previous testing.

If pre-diabetes is detected there are several things you can do to reverse course. This includes a change in eating habits and the addition of physical activity.