Over the past two decades, the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes in adults doubled. Now for the first time, according to new research from the Centers For Disease Control, the rate has leveled off – at least for some in the population.
The CDC reports that the total number of people living with diabetes increased an average of 0.6 percent annually between 2008 and 2012, to the current 8.3% of adults. Do the math and that’s nearly 21 million people over age 18 with diabetes, in the U.S. alone.
But the rates at which new cases are accumulating have slowed in certain population groups in recent years, a fact also confirmed in a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The CDC researchers said that the change may be due to another positive trend – the stabilization of obesity rates in the U.S.
“We are still seeing new and existing cases of diabetes going up, but the speed at which they are going up is leveling off,” said Ann Albright, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “It gives us hope,” she says. “It’s important that we begin to slow down this runaway train.”
Unfortunately, the rate of type 2 diabetes continues to grow among blacks and Hispanics, the elderly, and those without a college education, according to the JAMA report. Those with a high school education or less were more than twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who have completed college.
What’s being done to slow the growth of type 2 diabetes?
Figures from the CDC show that nearly 48 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and more than 42 percent of Hispanics are obese, making them more vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes. The CDC has had great success with its National Diabetes Prevention Program, a lifestyle change program that can cut a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes in half. However, the continued increase in diabetes rates among blacks, Hispanics and people with less than a high school education, reflects the difficulty in reaching these parts of the population with programs like the NDPP.
Albright sad, “You have to begin to look at things like poverty level, access to diabetes prevention services, and making sure that these services are culturally appropriate and easy for people to access.”
Reaching the Hispanic population
The American Diabetes Association says that roughly 13 percent of U.S. Latinos have diabetes, but many of them are undiagnosed. At Alivio Medical center, on the east side of Indianapolis, great strides have been made in educating their Hispanic patients. There, Fridays and Saturdays are known as “diabetes days”, with a focus on diabetes diagnosis and treatment. According to Dr. Alfredo Lopez-Yunez, he’s seen “… an explosion of new diagnoses. We diagnose maybe 10 new patients a month, which is staggering in this relatively small practice. Even more concerning is that we’re diagnosing them at an earlier age.” Dr. Lopez-Yunez said that type 2 diabetes among Latinos in their 20s and 30s would have been unheard of ten or twenty years ago.
“Right now I’m diagnosing people with Type 2 diabetes in their 20s, and this disease is going to be with them forever,” he said. The result of undiagnosed or unmanaged diabetes may be runaway heart disease, kidney disease, an impact on eye health, neuropathies, foot ulcers, and many other health complications.