Obesity drives type 2 diabetes explosion

Sunday, July 9, 2006

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The number of new cases of type 2 diabetes among middle-aged Americans has doubled over the past 30 years, researchers report.

"There has been tremendous concern, but probably not enough concern, about the emerging epidemic of diabetes," said Dr. Robert Rizza, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and president of the American Diabetes Association. "It doesn't take long to be doubling before the numbers are simply too great to be even conceived of."

Experts agree that the great increase in obesity over the same time frame appears to be responsible for the growing incidence of diabetes. An estimated two-thirds of adult Americans are now overweight or obese.

The study findings appear in the June 19 issue of the journal Circulation.

In their study, researchers collected data on 3,104 men and women, ages 40 to 55. All participants were diabetes-free at the start of the study, and they received a routine physical examination during the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. They were also followed for eight years to track new cases of diabetes.

The researchers found that the odds of developing type 2 diabetes increased 40% from the 1970s to the '80s, and doubled between the '70s and '90s. The data revealed that among women, there was an 84% increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the '90s, compared with the '70s. In men, the incidence of type 2 diabetes more than doubled in the '90s compared with the '70s.

This trend must be reversed to avoid serious repercussions for the U.S. economy and health-care system, Rizza said.