One In 15 Has Diabetes In U.S.

Diabetes in the United States rose by about 6 percent in 1999 in what the government called dramatic evidence of an unfolding epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said cases rose sharply across almost every demographic category, reports CBS News Reporter Ted Vigodsky. The rise is blamed largely on obesity, which was up a startling 57 percent from 1991.

"The message is out there - lose weight by increasing your physical activity and changing your diet," CDC epidemiologist Ali Mokdar said. "But nobody is doing it."

The share of the adult population diagnosed with diabetes jumped from about 6.5 percent in 1998 to 6.9 percent in 1999, the CDC said. The obesity rate increased to nearly one in five Americans - up from just 12 percent in 1991.

Are You At Risk?
Many don't even know they have diabetes. Take the American Diabetes Association's risk test to see if you should be concerned about diabetes.
Last August, the CDC reported that diabetes jumped 33 percent nationally, to 6.5 percent, between 1990 and 1998. The rise crossed races and age groups but was sharpest - about 70 percent - among people aged 30 to 39.

CDC director Jeffrey Koplan said the effect on the nation's health care costs will be overwhelming if the trends continue. "This dramatic new evidence signals the unfolding of an epidemic in the United States," he said.

The statistics, released Friday by the CDC, appear in the February issue of the journal Diabetes Care. The report is based on a telephone survey of 150,000 Americans.

At least 16 million Americans have diabetes, which prevents the body from regulating blood sugar. The number is expected to rise to 22 million by 2025.

A Silent Killer
Diabetes, a chronic disease that has no cure, is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Many people first become aware that they have the disease when they develop one of its life-threatening complications.
  • Blindness Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in people ages 20-74. Each year 12,000 to 24,000 lose their sight because of the disease.
  • Kidney Disease Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (kidney failure), accounting for about 40 percent of new cases.
  • Nerve Disease and Amputations About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of diabetic nerve damage, which can lead to lower limb amputations. The risk of a leg amputation is 15 to 40 times greater for a person with diabetes.
  • Heart Disease and Stroke People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease, which is present in 75 percent of diabetes-related deaths. And they are 2 to 4 times more likely to suffer a stroke.
    (CDC, American Diabetes Assoc.)
  • Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations and dramatically raises the risk of heart attacks. It kills 180,000 Americans each year.

    Experts have blamed America's couch-potato culture for the obesity that leads to diabetes. Computer-centered lifestyles, easy fast food and disappearing space for outdoor exercise all have been cited.

    In many cases, Mokdar said, Americans who do exercise don't do it often enough, and many cut fat from their diets without paying attention to crucial calories.

    But preventing diabetes is fairly simple, according to the American Diabetes Association, which recommends physical exercise and a low-calorie, low-fat, high-fiber diet.

    The CDC reported an especially large rise in the diabetes rate in 1999 among blacks - more than 10 percent in just one year. Whites, Hispanics and other racial groups also had higher rates in 1999.

    The diabetes rate fell among only one age group from 1998 to 1999 - people in their 30s. But that age group saw a huge rise from 1990 to 1998, up about 70 percent.

    "This used to be a disease that came late in life," Mokdar said. "Now it's coming in kids as young as the early 20s. That's alarming."

    Dr. Robert Sherwin, president of the American Diabetes Association, said he expects the problem to get worse over the next several years.

    "The American way of life tends to favor inactivity," he said. "We're going to need a major education program in the schools to reverse this."

    ©MMI Viacom Internet Services Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report