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Prevalence of Diabetes Rose 5% Annually Since 1990

Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2007

CDC statistics highlight need for improved prevention efforts. 
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the prevalence of diabetes rose 5% annually since 1990, and trends in incidence were consistent with the prevalence data, according to a report presented at the American Diabetes Association's 67th Annual Scientific Sessions.

“The growth in diabetes prevalence and incidence accelerated in the early 1990s and this acceleration remains unabated,” said Linda S. Geiss, MA, Chief of Diabetes Surveillance, Diabetes Program, Division of Diabetes Translation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a recent interview. “It is likely tied to the growth in obesity in this country, and if we are going to stem the growing burden of diabetes, we must improve our prevention efforts.”

Nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes, a group of serious diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin. Diabetes can lead to severely debilitating or fatal complications, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, and amputations. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

The researchers identified three distinct periods in the rate of existing diabetes in the population at a given time.
• From 1963-75, prevalence increased from 13.6 to 25.8 per 1000 people – 5.1% per year.
• Between 1975 and 1990, prevalence did not increase.
• From 1990-2005, prevalence increased substantially from 26.4 to 54.5 per 1000 – 4.6% per year.  “Although trends in incidence were only available from 1980 onward for people 19 to 79 years, they were consistent with trends in prevalence for Americans of all ages,” said Ms. Geiss.
• Between 1980 and 1991, the rate of occurrence of new cases did not increase.
• Between 1991 and 2005, incidence increased from 4.0 to 7.7 per 1000 adults – 5.1% annually.

What happened in the middle period – 1975 to 1990 – to slow the steady increase in diabetes prevalence and incidence? “It may be a coincidence, but the first standard diagnostic criteria for diabetes were released in 1975,” said Ms.Geiss. “Prior to that time, there was no consensus on diagnosis, and the new standardization could have caused some stabilization in the rates.” However, she acknowledged that this is sheer speculation. Nonetheless, the contribution of rising obesity to the climb in diabetes starting in 1990 is clear.  “Using the same data source, we examined weight trends among adults age 20 and over and found that obesity in the U.S. population began to increase at a more rapid rate in 1986, four years prior to the time when diabetes began to increase significantly,” said Ms. Geiss.

“The growth in diabetes accelerated in 1990, shows no sign of slowing down, and appears to be linked to increasing obesity,” she said. “These trends highlight the need for continued and intensified efforts to prevent diabetes.”

Source: Diabetes In Control: Data presented at the 67th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association Symposium: Co authors of the paper were Jing Wang, MPH, and Edward W. Gregg, Ph.D, both of the CDC. Abstract #125-OR

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