Study Finds Prevalence of Diabetes Has Doubled Over Previous 30 Years
In the U.S., about 24.7 million adults in 2008 had diabetes, almost triple the level seen three decades earlier.
Researchers attributed about 70% of the increase to population growth and aging, while diet, rising obesity rates and a decline in physical activity were to blame for the remainder (Naik, Wall Street Journal, 6/27).
For the study, researchers in the U.K. and U.S. collected data from 2.7 million people worldwide and analyzed their blood sugar levels after they had not eaten for 12 to 14 hours. Normal glucose levels are considered to be below 5.6 millimoles per liter, while levels between 5.6 and seven millimoles are known as pre-diabetes and levels above seven millimoles per liter is considered to be diabetes (Maugh, "Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 6/25).
Between 1980 and 2008, the percentage of men with diabetes increased to 9.8%, from 8.3%, while the number of women with diabetes jumped from 7.5% to 9.2% (Wall Street Journal, 6/27).
Study author Majid Ezzati, an epidemiologist at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said the rate of diabetes has increased everywhere in the world, which is "in contrast to blood pressure and cholesterol, which have both fallen in many regions."
He noted that "[d]iabetes is much harder to prevent and treat than these other conditions" ("Booster Shots," Los Angeles Times, 6/25). Ezzati added that diabetes could "become the defining issue of global health for the next decade" (Cheng, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.