Pre-diabetes and diabetes have almost doubled in the last 20 years

Rates of both pre-diabetes and diabetes (type 1 and type 2) are climbing fast in the nation, according to research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The incidence of both conditions has nearly doubled over the past two decades, and obesity seems to be the main culprit for the surge.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes rates rose from 6 percent to 10 percent in the last 20 years, while pre-diabetes also jumped from 12 percent to 30 percent among Americans.

'Confirmed' cases provide more realistic numbers

One of the more telling aspects of this study is that it calculated "confirmed" cases of undiagnosed diabetes – using a second measure of HbA1c in addition to a glucose test, the researchers were able to confirm cases of diabetes that may have technically been considered undiagnosed in prior studies.

They found the disease burden of both diabetes and pre-diabetes was higher in certain groups, too, like the elderly, blacks and Hispanics.

"There is a growing need to recognize this serious issue, especially since most cases of diabetes can be prevented through weight loss and other lifestyle changes," said lead author Dr. Elizabeth Selvin, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Ethnic minorities at risk

While diabetes rates were found to be increasing, the study did find some good news: only 11 percent of diabetes cases in the United States are undiagnosed. This figure suggests that screening and treatment methods are improving, Selvin said.

Ethnic minorities tend to have a greater risk for complications associated with diabetes, she said, and differences among ethnic groups were also seen in regards to treatment and glycemic control: individuals from ethinic minorities appeared to have higher HbA1c levels than non-Hispanic whites.

"The implications of the increase in pre-diabetes and diabetes are enormou,s but the good news is we are doing better with screening and diagnosis," Selvin concluded.

Source: Bloomberg School of Public Health

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