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  • US Diabetes Rates Double in 20 Years, Diagnosis Rates Improve

    The "staggering" increase in obesity rates among Americans is the most likely reason behind a near-doubling in the prevalence of diabetes over the past 20 years, according to a new study, which also found "striking differences" in diabetes rates among minorities. On average, about 10% of the adult US population now suffers from the disease—up from 5.5% in 1994.

    The findings, which appear in the April 15 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (abstract only available for free), point to general improvements in diagnosis rates, with the rate of undiagnosed diabetes estimated at about 11% of total confirmed cases. The study also reports that prevalence of treatment is also more widespread.

    Those were just about the limits of the good news, however. The study reviewed 43,439 participants in National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) conducted in 1988–1994, 1999–2004, and 2005–2010 and found that rates of diabetes climbed as obesity rates rose. Obesity rates are now estimated at just over 32% of Americans without diagnosed diabetes, according to the report.

    The rise in diabetes rates was even more significant for certain ethnic groups. While whites reported an 8.6% diabetes rate, non-Hispanic blacks registered a 15.4% rate, while the rate of diabetes among Mexican Americans was estimated at 11.6%. The results are "particularly concerning because blacks and Mexican Americans are also at greater risk for complications from diabetes, particularly retinopathy and kidney disease," the authors write.

    APTA emphasizes the importance of prevention, wellness and disease management, and offers resources on diabetes for physical therapists and their patients through its Move Forward diabetes webpage and in a pocket guide to diabetes. The association also offers 21 clinical practice guidelines on care for patients with diabetes as well as 3 Cochrane reviews related to care for patients with diabetes-related foot ulcers through its PTNow evidence-based research tool.

    Research-related stories featured in News Now are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website. Read APTA's full website disclaimer.

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