Good news? Why study showing half of Americans have diabetes is cause for celebration

Good news? Why study showing half of Americans have diabetes is cause for celebration

"Progress has been made"

A new report shows that one in two Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Experts in the field are overjoyed.

The study, published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that after decades of increased diagnoses, the occurrence of diabetes in the US has finally plateaued.

Scientists hope that hereafter, the trend will begin to reverse it self and the percentage of Americans with the debilitating disease will begin to decline.

“Although obesity and Type 2 diabetes remain major clinical and public health problems in the United States, the current data provide a glimmer of hope,” said William Herman and Amy Rothberg of the University of Michigan in an editorial linked to the study.

The study suggests that positive results are beginning to emerge after years of federal, state, and local government efforts to raise awareness, implement nutrition policies, and encourage physical activity.

Andy Menke, PhD, an epidemiologist at Social & Scientific Systems Inc. and colleagues sifted through data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 23,634 adults from 1988-2010. After estimating national trends, the researchers looked at 2,781 adults from 2011-2012 in order to determine the recent prevalence of the disease.

In 2011-2012, 14 percent of Americans had diabetes; 38 percent had prediabetes. Although this is still higher than the rates of the 1990s, it is nearly the same as the statistics for 2007-2008. This suggests that the epidemic is leveling off.

The cost of diabetes to the US in 2012 was $245 billion. Hospital inpatient care accounts for 43 percent of that cost; prescription medication accounts for 18 percent.

“Providing insurance coverage for intensive behavioral therapies for obesity and using behavioral economic approaches to encourage their uptake are further removing barriers to patient engagement and are providing strong incentives for individual behavioral change,” said Dr. Herman and Dr. Rothberg.

“Together, these multifaceted approaches are addressing both environmental factors and individual behaviors appear to be slowing the increase in obesity and diabetes and facilitating the diagnosis and management of diabetes.”

“Progress has been made, but expanded and sustained efforts will be required.”

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