Subjects: Public health
Nearly 13% percent of US adults at least 20 years old have diabetes and 40% of them don’t know it, according to a study in Diabetes Care.
And another 30% have pre-diabetes, a condition characterized by mildly abnormal blood sugars and a risk profile not all that much better than the full blown syndrome.
All these numbers are higher than previously thought.
To reach these conclusions, a scientific team lead by the NIDDK’s Catherine Cowie performed a history and physical exam, and then a fasting and 2-h oral glucose tolerance test on a sample of 7,267 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The year was 2005-2006.
The team subsequently compared these values with similar data from 1988 and 1994.
“We’re facing a diabetes epidemic that shows no signs of abating, judging from the number of individuals with pre-diabetes,” Cowie told BurrillReport.
Diabetes is the leading cause of amputations, blindness and renal failure in adults, and a prominent cause of cardiac disease and stroke. Pre-diabetes bumps one’s risk of stroke and cardiac disease not to mention developing type 2 diabetes.
The elderly and minorities have been hit particularly hard by the epidemic. Nearly a third of US citizens who are at least 65 years old have diabetes. And the incidence of the scourge in both blacks and Mexican-Americans is 70-80% higher than in whites.
Men and women were affected equally. Frighteningly, 16% of youth aged 12-19 years have pre-diabetes.
“These findings have grave implications for our health care system, which is already struggling to provide care for millions of diabetes patients,” Griffin Rodgers, the NIDDK director told Burrill.