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Diabetes Remains a Major Health Concern in the US

CardioSmart News

There’s no question that diabetes is a major public health concern in the United States. Diabetes has become increasingly common throughout the past few decades and currently affects an estimated 29 million Americans. But with prevention and treatment efforts, experts hope we’ve made some progress in slowing or reversing national trends.

To learn more, researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which collects detailed health information from a representative sample of the U.S. population. Data was analyzed from 1988 through 2012 and included nearly 26,500 U.S. adults. The findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Based on the most recent data from 2011–2012, researchers found that diabetes affects 12–14% of U.S. adults. Yet more than one-third of adults with diabetes don’t know they have it.

Equally as concerning is the proportion of adults that are at risk for diabetes but have not yet developed the disease. As of 2012, it’s estimated that 38% of U.S. adults have prediabetes and are likely to develop full-blown diabetes, unless steps are taken to improve their health.

Diabetes continues to affect certain populations more than others. Adults who are black, Asian or Hispanic are more than 20% more likely to have diabetes than whites. Among those with diabetes, roughly half of Asian and Hispanic adults don’t know they have it.

However, the good news is that diabetes trends have slowed in recent years. Overall, the frequency of diabetes increased from 9.8% to 12.4% between 1988 and 2012. Diabetes prevalence only increased by 1.6% over the last ten years.

Study findings suggest that prevention and treatment efforts have helped slow increases in diabetes over the past decade. However, nearly half of U.S. adults now have diabetes or are at risk for developing this disease. With continued efforts, experts hope to reverse trends and help decrease the number of Americans affected by diabetes.

This study also highlights the need to better address the significant health disparities that exist among different races and ethnicities. Minorities face significantly greater risk for diabetes and extra efforts are needed to address these high-risk populations. Overall, efforts are needed to further the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diabetes in all Americans to help improve cardiovascular and overall health.

Learn about CardioSmart's editorial process. Information provided for educational purposes only. Please talk to your health care professional about your specific needs.