Diabetes epidemic cited nationwide
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JANUARY 29, 2001

In what health experts are calling a nationwide epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday reported a 6 percent increase in diabetes cases among adults in 1999.

Published in the February issue of Diabetes Care, the results are another in a series on the ongoing problem of diabetes affecting the nation. Some 16 million Americans have the disease, which is the seventh leading cause of death.

Like a September 2000 study which reported a 33 percent increase from 1990 to 1998, the CDC is linking the rise in diabetes cases to obesity. A record 61 percent of Americans are now considered overweight or obese, increasing the risk for the development of diabetes.

"With obesity on the rise, we can expect diabetes rates to increase sharply as a result," said CDC director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan. "If these dangerous trends continue at the current rates, the impact on our nation's health and medical care costs in future years will be overwhelming."

According to the 1999 study based on a telephone survey of 150,000 Americans, diabetes has increased among all ethnic groups and men and women. At 9.9 percent, prevalence among African-Americans continues to be the highest in the nation.

But diabetes has long been recognized as a problem in Indian Country as well. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says nine percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives have one form of the disease, called type 2. In some tribes, such as the Pima of Arizona, up to 50 percent over the age of 35 have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Yet while the CDC is reporting an increase among adults, children are also being affected. Native American youth are also developing diabetes or showing signs of diabetes at younger ages.

"Until recently, type 2 diabetes was rarely seen in people under age 30," said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, chair of the American Indian workgroup of the National Diabetes Education Program, a joint program at NIH and the CDC. "Even young people who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop serious diseases, like diabetes."

Health experts like Roubideaux and Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of the diabetes program at the CDC, offer tips on how to prevent and/or control diabetes. A healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce the onset of diabetes as well as prevent related complications, which include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and blindness.

Relevant Links:
National Diabetes Program, Indian Health Service -
Diabetes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -
Prevalence of Diabetes by state -
Diabetes Care -

Only on Indianz.Com:
Diabetes Links and Resources (The Medicine Wheel 4/10)

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