According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million US adults and children have diabetes. There is some cause for cautious celebration, in a “good news, bad news” sort of way.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in December that Diabetes rates are decreasing. The CDC notes that from 1980 to 2014, the number of adults in the United States aged 18–79 with newly diagnosed diabetes more than tripled from 493,000 in 1980 to more than 1.4 million in 2014. The period from 1991 to 2009 saw a sharp increase with new cases increasing from 573,000 new cases diagnosed in 1991 to 1.7 million new cases diagnosed in 2009. The rate of new cases held steady in 2010, and began to fall. Since 2011, cases have fallen to 1.4 million new cases diagnosed per year.
The CDC report notes, “Our findings suggest that after decades of continued growth in the prevalence and incidence of diagnosed diabetes, the diabetes epidemic may be beginning to slow for the first time.” Epidemiologists urge caution.
While there is certainly cause for excitement, diabetes continues to pose a threat to public health. According to the CDC data, even with the current decrease in new cases, the number of new diabetes cases in 2014 was 2.5 times the number of new cases diagnosed in 1991 (573,000 vs 1,437,000). According to other CDC data, since 1980, the rate of diabetes has increased by more than 100% among all age groups. Additionally, the current data potentially masks the picture for high risk groups like Blacks or Hispanics and elderly populations.
Some possible reasons for the decrease are increasing levels of activity and a stabilizing obesity rate. Other government data shows that Americans are increasing their level exercise. Other data shows that obesity rates have peaked and plateaued.
What are the golden nuggets dug from these findings? Rates are declining. That is a good thing. However, continued vigilance is needed. If you are at risk for diabetes, make the healthier choices doctors have been asking for:
- Get more physical activity. At least 30 minutes 5 days per week.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Eat foods high in fiber. Reach for the veggies
- Choose whole grains- make them at least half of your grains.
- Avoid excess sugar
If we all do this, the new diabetes diagnoses will continue to fall.