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article imageHalf of all Americans have diabetes or are pre-diabetic

By Caroline Leopold     Sep 9, 2015 in Health
About half of all Americans have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to a new study. Experts say there is some good news behind the grim statistics.
Diabetes, which grew at a rapid pace in past decades, may have finally hit a plateau.
The study is based on data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The researchers report that from 2011 to 2012 between 12 percent and 14 percent of Americans had diabetes, depending on what criteria were used to diagnose them.
This percentage has remained stable since 2008, which means diabetes isn't getting worse. The proportion of people being diagnosed has leveled off in recent years.
The results were published in a paper published in the September 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
While diabetes diagnoses have slowed, the proportion of people with pre-diabetes is alarmingly high. Studies found that between 1990 and 2002, 29 percent of people had pre-diabetes. Between 2007 and 2010, the number shot up to 36 percent. In 2011 and 2012, the authors report the number grew slightly to 37 percent to 38 percent.
Based on the numbers, in 2012, an estimated 49 percent to 52 percent of Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
"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," wrote William Herman and Amy Rothberg of the University of Michigan in an article accompanying the JAMA paper.
Herman and Rothberg, who were not involved in the research, argue that progress has been made through aggressive individual and community-level policies. These food and physical activity policies and regulations by all levels of the government as well as better access to diagnosis and treatment seem to be working.
"Progress has been made, but expanded and sustained efforts will be required," they wrote.
Many people seem to be diagnosed sooner as the proportion of people having the disease without knowing it dropped from roughly 40 percent in 1988 to 1994 to 31 percent in 2011 to 2012.
This decrease, however, was not found across all racial and ethnic groups. Asian Americans people were most likely than any other racial group to have undiagnosed diabetes.
Mexican Americans were more likely to go undiagnosed and this percentage had not improved over time. The authors believe may be due to lower access to healthcare due to more of this group being uninsured.
People with pre-diabetes have higher blood sugar levels than normal, but not high enough to be considered
diabetes, says the Centers for Disease Control. Pre-diabetes can put people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Type 2 diabetes is disorder where cells do not use insulin properly or have insulin resistance. The CDC reports that diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is responsible for significant disability due to complications from the disorder.
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