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Posted: July 01, 2008

Elderly Hit Hard as Americans with Diabetes Reaches 8% of Population

Diabetes continued its staggering growth in the United States, affecting nearly 24 million Americans last year -- evidence of the impact of obesity and an aging population, according the federal statistics. This means that nearly 8% of the U.S. population now has diabetes.


Diabetes, which disproportionately affects the elderly, affected more than 3 million more people in 2007 than it did in 2005, according to new data estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


In addition to the 24 million with diabetes, 57 million other Americans are estimated to have pre-diabetes, a condition that puts people at increased risk for diabetes. Among diabetics, those who do not know they have the disease decreased from 30% to 25% over a two-year period, CDC said.


Most of those affected have type-2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise. It has been estimated that a third of US adults are obese and about 18% of children and teens are overweight.


"The numbers continue to go up because we have growth in the number of people who are overweight and obese. And the population is aging," said Dr. Ann Albright, director of the CDC Division of Diabetes Translation.


"These new estimates have both good news and bad news,” added Albright. "It is concerning to know that we have more people developing diabetes, and these data are a reminder of the importance of increasing awareness of this condition, especially among people who are at high risk.


“On the other hand, it is good to see that more people are aware that they have diabetes. That is an indication that our efforts to increase awareness are working, and more importantly, that more people are better prepared to manage this disease and its complications."

Diabetes is a disease associated with high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production that causes sugar to build up in the body. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.

Among adults, diabetes increased in both men and women and in all age groups, but was especially harsh on the elderly. Almost 25% of those age 60 and older had diabetes in 2007.


Compared to other regions of the United States, areas of the Southeast and Appalachia saw particularly high diabetes growth during the two-year period, tracking data that identifies these regions as being at higher risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke.


As in previous years, disparities also existed among ethnic groups and minority populations, including Native Americans, blacks and Hispanics, CDC reported. After adjusting for population age differences between the groups, the rate of diagnosed diabetes was highest among Native Americans and Alaska Natives (16.5%). This was followed by blacks (11.8%) and Hispanics (10.4%), which includes rates for Puerto Ricans (12.6%), Mexican Americans (11.9%), and Cubans (8.2%). By comparison, the rate for Asian Americans was 7.5% with whites at 6.6%.


CDC pointed out that those who have the disease or have just been diagnosed can help keep their diabetes under control, but it takes a strict regimen of diet, exercise, and most times medication.

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