Monday, March 21, 2011

'Diabetes belt' emerges in Southeast U.S.

Individuals who live in one of several Southern states are significantly more likely to receive a positive HbA1c test for diabetes, as a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified what officials are calling the "diabetes belt" of the U.S.

The belt stretches from Pennsylvania in the Northeast to Texas in the Southwest and includes all the states in between. The rate of diabetes in these states is 11 percent, compared to a national rate of 8 percent.

The researchers said that obesity and sedentary lifestyles were most likely the causes of this discrepancy. Nearly 33 percent of people from these states are obese, while the national average is 26 percent. More than 30 percent are largely sedentary, compared to a national rate of 24.8.

Identifying areas where prevalence of the disease is highest could allow public health officials to direct their resources more efficiently and hopefully contain diabetes, the researchers said.

"Identifying a diabetes belt by counties allows community leaders to identify regions most in need of efforts to prevent type 2 diabetes and to manage existing cases of the disease," said Lawrence E. Barker, who led the study. "Although many risk factors for type 2 diabetes can't be changed, others can."

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