Nov. 15, 2012 -- The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. jumped by 50% or more in 42 states and by more than 100% in 18 of those states in just under two decades, according to the latest snapshot from the CDC.
The new data set looked at rates of diabetes in the U.S. from 1995 and 2010. The findings appear in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
In 2010, more than 18.8 million people in the U.S. were estimated to have diabetes, and about 7 million more were estimated to have undetected diabetes. These rates have been on the rise since 1990 across the board.
The states with the greatest spikes in diagnosed diabetes included:
What is driving this? “Risk factors for diabetes, including [inactive] lifestyle and obesity, are some of the major reasons for the increase,” says researcher Linda Geiss. She is a statistician at the CDC in Atlanta.
Other explanations may include the aging of the population, the fact that people with diabetes are living longer, and improved screening that catches more people with diabetes.
But “we have seen a striking and continuous increase, which is more likely the result of increased risk factors,” she says.
Diabetes rates are known to be the highest in the South and Appalachian region of the U.S. This region spans from southern New York to northern Mississippi and includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states.
“These are also the areas where diabetes is increasing at the fastest rate,” Geiss says. These areas have higher rates of risk factors for diabetes, such as obesity, and inactive lifestyles.
But diabetes rates don’t have to continue their steep climb. “Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by making changes to your lifestyle,” she says. “Get active, eat better, and lose weight.”
John Buse, MD, seconds this. He is the chief of the division of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“For people at risk, get screened and adopt a lifestyle plan to avoid diabetes,” he says. “The diabetes epidemic rolls on, but the good news is we may be doing better at finding people with diabetes.”
Angela U. Tucker, MD, is a family practice doctor at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. The new findings mirror what she has seen in her urban practice.
“Obesity is an obvious risk factor for diabetes, and it is also the most obviously modifiable factor,” she says. “You can’t change some risk factors, including heredity, age, and ethnicity, but we can change our exercise habits, lose weight, and improve upon our eating habits.”
Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!
Your level is currently
If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.
People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.
Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.
However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.
Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.
One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.
Thank you for signing up for the WebMD Diabetes Newsletter!
You'll find tips and tricks as well as the latest news and research on Diabetes.
Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?
Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.