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Diabetes continues to rise

16-Jun-2003

One in three Americans born in 2000 will develop diabetes, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report presented last week.

"The estimated lifetime risk of developing diabetes for persons born in 2000 was 33 per cent for males and 39 per cent for females, based on data from the National Health Interview Survey, US Census Bureau and other sources," said Dr K.M. Venkat Narayan, chief of the Diabetes Epidemiology section of the Division of Diabetes Translation at CDC, in a recent interview. The highest estimated lifetime risks were among Hispanics - 45 per cent for males and 53 per cent for females.

"Primary prevention of diabetes is thus an important priority for the nation because diabetes is one of the most prevalent and costly chronic diseases in the United States," said Dr Narayan.

Dr James R. Gavin, chair of the National Diabetes Education Program, which is jointly sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) National Institutes of Health (NIH) and CDC, stressed the importance of prevention: "The health care delivery system must dramatically scale up preventive efforts to stem the rising tide of type 2 diabetes."

He referred to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) to help prevent type 2 diabetes. The campaign, "Small Steps, Big Rewards. Prevent type 2 Diabetes," emphasizes that modest lifestyle changes - including healthier diets and physical activity - can help people prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

"The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and other international clinical trials have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through modest changes in lifestyle," said Dr Gavin. In the DPP, people with pre- diabetes - those whose blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes - were able to cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than half by losing 5 to 7 per cent of their body weight through moderate changes, including a lower fat diet and increased exercise, such as a 30-minute brisk walk five times per week. These lifestyle changes worked for people of every ethnic or racial group who participated in the study, and they were especially successful for people over age 65.

Risk factors for diabetes and pre-diabetes include being overweight, inactive, age 45 or older, having high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides, a family history of diabetes, a history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, and belonging to an ethnic or minority group at high risk for diabetes. African Americans, Hispanic Americans/Latinos, American Indians and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

More than 17 million Americans have diabetes, a group of serious diseases characterized by high blood sugar levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin. Nationally, diabetes has increased nearly 50 per cent in the past 10 years alone, according to CDC estimates, and the incidence of the disease is expected to grow another 165 per cent by 2050 under current trends.

The CDC report was presented at the American Diabetes Association's 63rd Annual Scientific Sessions. The ADA is a health organization supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy.

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