The odds are increasing that you or someone you know has Type 2 diabetes. The latest Morbidity and Mortality report (MMWR) released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that from 1995 to 2010, there was at least a 100% increase in the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes cases in 18 states. Forty-two states saw an increase of at least 50%.
"Even when you know that [the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes] is increasing, to see that level of increase was shocking to me," says Linda Geiss, a statistician with CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation and the lead author of the MMWR.
"It was the 100% figure. 100% – that's a large increase."
Predictably, states in the South where obesity levels have also steadily increased had some of the highest increases in diabetes. Oklahoma topped the list with an increase of 226%, followed by Kentucky with 158%, Georgia with 145%, Alabama with 140% and the state of Washington with 135%.
The American Diabetes Association says approximately 8% of the U.S. population, or 25.8 million people, have diabetes and another 79 million people are pre-diabetic. The overwhelming majority of the cases are Type 2.
Obesity is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, and like the increased prevalence in diagnosed diabetes cases, the rate of obesity in the United States also increased over the last decade, although it now appears to have steadied.
Earlier this year, a report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine estimated that 42% of the U.S. population will be obese by 2030 and an additional 30 million Americans will be obese in 18 years.
"For someone who might be at high risk [for diabetes], you should know that you can prevent the disease or delay it," says Geiss. "Increase your physical activity, improve your diet, lose 5 to 7% of your body weight if you're at high risk."