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Hispanic Health News

Number of Diabetics in U.S. Expected to Triple by 2050

The number of American adults with diabetes could double or triple by 2050 if current trends continue, warns a federal government study released today.

The number of new diabetes cases a year will increase from 8 per 1,000 in 2008 to 15 per 1,000 in 2050, predicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2050, between one-fifth and one-third of all adults could have diabetes—with virtually all the increase attributed to type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable.

An aging population, an increase in minority groups at higher risk for diabetes, and the fact that diabetes patients are living longer are among the reasons for the steep projected rise.

Diabetes remains the leading cause of new cases of blindness under age 75, kidney failure, and preventable leg and foot amputation among adults in the United States, according to the CDC.  In addition, people diagnosed with diabetes have medical costs that are more than twice that of those without the disease, the agency reports. The total costs of diabetes in the United States are an estimated $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical costs.

The projected increase in U.S. diabetes numbers reflects the global growth of the disease. About 285 million people worldwide had diabetes in 2010, and the number could swell to as many as 438 million by 2030, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

About 24 million Americans have diabetes, but one-quarter of them don’t know it. Older age, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, family history, developing diabetes while pregnant, and race/ethnicity are risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Racial/ethnic groups at increased risk are African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.  The study appears in the journal Population Health Metrics.

However, regular physical activity and proper nutrition can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and help control the disease. To that end, the CDC has launched a campaign to reduce such risks in overweight and obese people, stressing dietary changes, coping skills and group support to help participants lose 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight and get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity.

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