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The American Diabetes Burden

Newly available results from a study conducted by epidemiologists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that almost 13 percent of people 20 years old and over have diabetes, with 40 percent of those people unaware that they have it.

The study results have been published in the February 2009 issue of Diabetes Care. The data for the study was taken from the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more commonly referred to as NHANES. Data from 7,267 participants age 12 and older were analyzed. Participants were interviewed in their homes, took a physical exam, and a subset of them had a fasting blood glucose test (FBG) and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) as well. The information was then compared to the NHANES survey conducted from 1988-1994. Additional findings from the survey:

• The rate of diagnosed diabetes increased between the surveys, but the prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes remained relatively stable.
• Minority groups continue to bear a disproportionate burden. The prevalence of diabetes, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, in non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican- Americans is about 70 to 80 percent higher than that of non-Hispanic whites.
• Diabetes prevalence was virtually the same in men and women, as was the proportion of undiagnosed cases.
• Pre-diabetes is more common in men than in women (36 percent compared to 23 percent).
• Diabetes is rare in youth ages 12 to 19 years, but about 16 percent 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, many of whom belong to vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or minorities,” said Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), in a press release. “Of paramount importance is the need to curb the obesity epidemic, which is the main factor driving the rise in type 2 diabetes.”

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