Two studies released this week from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health show both encouraging and discouraging news about the nation's mortality and health as it relates to diabetes.
The first study, published in Diabetes Care, found that death rates for people with diabetes dropped substantially from 1997 to 2006, especially deaths related to heart disease and stroke. Deaths from all causes declined by 23% and deaths related to heart disease and stroke dropped by 40%.
According to CDC, some healthy lifestyle changes contributed to the decline, as did improved medical treatment for cardiovascular disease and better management of diabetes. In particular, the study showed that people with diabetes were more likely to be physically active and less likely to smoke than in the past. Better control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol also may have contributed to improved health. However, obesity levels among adults with diabetes continued to increase.
The second study found a 15% prevalence rate for prediabetes/diabetes among adolescents during a survey period from 1999 to 2008. According to a Reuters Health News article based on the study, the conditions were seen in 9% of teens in 1999-2000, but that figure rose to 23% in 2007-2008. "That was unexpected," lead researcher Ashleigh May, MS, PhD, told Reuters, because the research team found that obesity rates for teens leveled off during the study period. The rates of high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol also remained steady.
Although the study gauged prediabetes and diabetes from a single blood sugar measurement, which may be less reliable in adolescents than in adults, May says the overall results show that children and teenagers need more help with staying physically active and following a healthy diet.