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New State Data Show Obesity and Diabetes Still On the Rise

  [ 30 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 3, 2003

The obesity and diabetes epidemics continued to escalate during 2001, according to new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a study published in the January 1, 2003, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), CDC reported that obesity climbed from 19.8 percent of American adults to 20.9 percent of American adults between 2000 and 2001, and diagnosed diabetes (including gestational diabetes) increased from 7.3 percent to 7.9 percent during the same one-year period. The increases were evident regardless of sex, age, race and educational status.

"Obesity and diabetes are among our top public health problems in the United States today," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "The good news is that diabetes and other chronic illnesses can be prevented with modest lifestyle changes. As we enter a new year, it is a great opportunity for all Americans to be active and healthy."

Currently, more than 44 million Americans are considered obese by body mass index*, reflecting an increase of 74 percent since 1991. During the same time frame, diabetes increased by 61 percent, reflecting the strong correlation between obesity and development of diabetes. Today an estimated 17 million people have diabetes in the United States.

Prevalence of both diagnosed diabetes and obesity varied widely among states. Mississippi had the highest rate of obesity (25.9 percent) and Colorado had the lowest (14.4 percent). Alabama had the highest rate of diagnosed diabetes (10.5 percent) and Minnesota the lowest (5.0 percent).

"These increases are disturbing and are likely even underestimated," said CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding. "What's more important, we're seeing a number of serious health effects resulting from overweight and obesity."

The study found strong and significant associations between overweight, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and arthritis. Compared to adults with healthy weight (BMI values from 18.5 to 24.9), those with a body mass index of 40 or higher had an increased risk of being diagnosed with diabetes (7.37 times greater), high blood pressure (6.38 times greater), high cholesterol levels (1.88 times greater), asthma (2.72 times greater), and arthritis (4.41 times greater).
"If we continue on this same path, the results will be devastating to both the health of the nation and to our healthcare system," Gerberding said.

Other study results found that African Americans had the highest rates of both obesity (31.1 percent) and diabetes (11.2 percent) compared with other ethnic groups. People with less than a high school education had higher rates of both obesity (27.4 percent) and diabetes (13 percent) than people who had a high school education.

The data in the report were obtained through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based telephone survey that collects information from adults aged 18 years or older. For this survey, participants were asked about their height and weight and if they had ever been told by a doctor that they had diabetes.

To address the epidemics, CDC recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week to maintain good health and 60 minutes to achieve significant weight loss. CDC also has worked closely with states and communities to develop programs such as the Active Community Environments Program (ACEs), which promotes walking, bicycling and developing accessible recreation facilities. CDC supports 59 territorial and state-based diabetes prevention and control programs to help decrease the development of type 2 diabetes, previously called adult-onset diabetes. CDC also collaborates with the National Institutes of Health on the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) aimed at improving treatment, promoting early diagnosis, and ultimately preventing the onset of diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, obesity and other CDC prevention programs, please visit the following CDC web sites: and or call toll-free 877-CDC-DIAB (877-232-3422) and 888-CDC-4NRG (888-232-4674). To obtain advance copies of electronic maps showing state-by-state prevalence of obesity and diabetes, call 770-488-5131 or 5820.

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