A just released study by Gallup-Healthways, part of its “State of American Well-Being” series, looks at diabetes and obesity. No pun intended, but the two maladies are tied at the hip. The study looked at 190 communities and across all 50 states. No surprises, the study just confirms what we sorta, kinda already knew by looking around at many of our friends and neighbors — or maybe looking at ourselves in the mirror.
The incidences of “diabetes in the U.S. adult population is growing,” the report says, “up from 10.6 percent in 2008 to 11.5 percent in 2016.” That means about 2.2 million more Americans have diabetes in 2016 who didn’t have it eight years ago. However, there is a kicker. The obesity rate “has climbed by almost 3 points since 2008, to reach 28.3 percent nationally in 2016,” according to the study.
That means danger lies ahead. As the obesity rate climbs so will the rate of diabetes because obesity is a key risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. The study notes that “While not all people with diabetes are obese, and not all who are obese develop diabetes, research shows that about 54 percent of middle aged Americans who are obese and have not yet developed diabetes will do so in their lifetime.”
Quoted in the Gallup-Healthways study, Dr. Steven Edelman, founder and director of Taking Control of Your Diabetes said, “The prevalence of diabetes and obesity continue to increase dramatically. We have an epidemic on our hands. Even more alarming is that only half of people with diabetes are adequately controlling their glucose, a statistic that has not changed in 10 years despite a plethora of new and effective drugs and devices. All of our health care systems need to focus on education, motivation and activation.
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How does Georgia rank? As a state, Georgia ranked 38 with 12.7 percent of its population with diabetes and 28.8 percent obese. Augusta has the lowest percentage for obesity and diabetes, coming in at No. 18. Atlanta, 90; Savannah, 155 and Columbus at 185. As you can imagine, the South, where fried foods are king, didn’t fare very well. Tennessee, Mississippi, West Virginia and Alabama claim the highest incidences of diabetes and obesity in their populations. Of the 190 communities measured, Mobile, Alabama ranked the highest (not a good thing).
So what where are the residents living with the lowest rates of diabetes and obesity? Utah, Rhode Island and Colorado are the top three, with Boulder, Colorado being the top community measured in the country with a diabetes percentage of only 4.6 percent and 16.4 of its population qualifying as obese.
Education is the first step toward understanding one’s risk of obesity and diabetes. One of the first indicators a person should know and understand is Body Mass Index. A BMI of 30 or greater, puts a person at risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes along with “age, physical inactivity, race and ethnicity and genetic predisposition,” according to the Gallup-Healthways report. Knowing your A1C, a blood test that measures the three-month average plasma glucose concentration in the blood.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a normal nondiabetic A1C is below 5.7 percent. A person with uncontrolled diabetes might have an A1C level above 8 percent. When using the test to diagnose diabetes an A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate occasions indicates diabetes.
There are several steps one can take once they are armed with information. Diabetes can be addressed, but left on its own it can cause damage in several different areas of the body. However, with just a few changes of diet, exercise and awareness, obesity and diabetes can be a thing of the past.