However, it’s not all good news. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported this week that Diabetes, which is a metabolic disorder, continues to spread among African Americans and Latinos. Also, the likelihood of a diabetes diagnoses is still rising for those between the age bracket of 20-44 who do not have a high school education.
Shakira Suglia is an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She wasn’t involved in the JAMA study and says, while it’s positive that many Americans are getting the healthy eating and exercise message, “We’re just not reaching certain populations” when it comes to effective education on keeping diabetes away.
The rate of diabetes was measured in two ways in the study. The first was prevalence (the rate amongst the entire population) and the second was incidence (measured by the amount of new diagnoses made within a time frame.) While rates of prevalence tell researchers about the overall impact of the disease on public health, incidence rates allow authorities to calculate an individual’s risk of developing the disease. This allows researchers to compare the disease risk among gender, age or ethic groups groups in society.
The LA Times reports the rates of diabetes over the last four decades was, “Fueled by the runaway spread of obesity in the 1970s and 1980s, the rate of Type 2 diabetes among American adults ages 20 to 79 more than doubled from 3.5% in 1990 to 7.9% in 2008. In 2012, that figure was essentially unchanged at 8.3%. In addition, for every 1,000 Americans in that age group, 3.2 were diagnosed with diabetes in 1990 and 8.8 would be newly diagnosed in 2008. By 2012, that figure fell to 7.1.”
Weight-based health problems such as obesity and diabetes also have a major effect on healthcare spending. It’s been estimated that healthcare costs for those with these conditions is almost twice as high as it is for someone who doesn’t.
Shakira Suglia made further comments on the results of the study. “With certain populations, you have to look beyond messages that promote more healthful eating and more exercise. For adults working two jobs to feed their families, or coping with violent neighborhoods, these factors fall down on the list of priorities, so there has to be a bigger effort to go beyond [the message of] ‘eat healthy and exercise’ and to ask, how do we facilitate that?”
(Photo courtesy of Victor)