Summary: Disturbingly, researchers estimate that 40% of Americans alive today will develop type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in a top medical journal, The Lancet.
40% of Americans Alive Today Will Get Diabetes
In a 2014 study published in the journal The Lancet, researchers estimated that two out of five Americans alive today will eventually develop type 2 diabetes. In conducting the study, researchers followed the medical records and death certificates of about 600,000 adults for a quarter of a century to forecast trends for lifetime risk of diabetes. The lead author on the study was Dr. Edward Gregg, chief of the epidemiology and statistics branch at the U.S. CDC. The Lancet study’s authors were shocked to find that predicted diabetes rates had nearly doubled in the last quarter century. Dr. Gregg himself remarked:
“…Ongoing diabetes and obesity epidemics have combined with ever-increasing human life spans to increase lifetime risk of type 2 diabetes to about 40 percent for both men and women,”
“We weren’t necessarily surprised that it increased, but we didn’t expect it to increase this much.”
During the quarter-century period covered by the study, from 1985 and 2011, researchers were alarmed to find that the lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes nearly doubled – increasing from 21% in the late 1980’s to just over 40% in 2011 when computed for the average 20-year-old American man. For the average 20-year-old woman, the lifetime risk increased from 27 percent to almost 40 percent in the same period. The study predicted even worse odds for American minorities: half of black women and half of Hispanic males and females will develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime.
Reasons for Shocking Rise in The Disease
The Lancet study’s authors provided two grounds for the doubling of diabetes rates over the past quarter century a) Americans are living longer, which makes them more likely to develop diabetes at some point during their lives, and b) the epidemic of overweight and obesity.
Because type 2 diabetes rates increase with age, it is a rapidly growing problem among senior Americans. According to the CDC, of the Americans 65 and older, 26% currently have the condition.
An epidemic of overweight and obesity is plaguing the U.S. Being overweight or obese increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Body weight is a controllable risk factor.
How Can I Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?
Some of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes are beyond your control, including genetics and growing older. Thankfully, many risk factors are within your control. The controllable factors include being overweight or obese, a high fat / high sugar diet, and having prediabetes.
Risk Factors Beyond Our Control
- Genetics – If either of your parents has type 2 diabetes, it increases your risk of developing the disease by a fraction. Having other siblings or both parents with type 2 diabetes increases your risk even further. You can’t choose your parents. The only way to address this risk is by being proactive in preventing the disease and getting tested more often.
- Growing Older – As one grows older, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases, requiring one to work harder at prevention. Thankfully, nothing is being done to prevent Americans from growing older. The only way to address the increased risk is by getting tested more often and by being proactive in preventing the condition.
One In Four Unaware They Have Diabetes
Because they haven’t been tested, many people are unaware they have the disease. The CDC reports that 1 in 4 people with diabetes doesn’t know they have the disease. Walking around with untreated diabetes is hazardous to your health. A related article provides an online tool that assesses your risk for type 2 diabetes. By learning your status, and treating the disease, you can largely prevent the disease from unnecessarily damaging your health.
How To Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
In the press release accompanying the report, Dr. Gregg provided some tips for preventing type 2 diabetes:
“The thing that’s going to have the biggest effect is if people with multiple risk factors can make sustained changes in their lifestyles,”
Dr. Gregg added:
“Weight-loss surgery is an option for some, and it is highly effective, but that’s not going to be the solution for the large number of people at risk for diabetes.”
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Three factors within your control include body weight, diet, and exercise.
Lose excess weight – losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It also makes you healthier so you can live longer.
A meal plan rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is not only a healthy diet, but it also helps you lose weight, a proven way to prevent type 2 diabetes. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables provides lots of fiber. The secret is in the fiber – it fills you up, so you don’t feel hungry. Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables help you live longer, reducing the risk of stroke, cancer, heart attack and premature death. Learn how to eat ten servings of fruits and vegetables, in this article.
Regular Exercise – You can lose weight with 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.
Drinking Coffee May Lower Diabetes Risk
Coffee is one of the healthiest things in the Western diet.
Coffee is loaded with healthy antioxidants and bioactive compounds. In fact, an observational study shows that habitual coffee drinkers have reduced rates of type 2 diabetes. Read all about coffee’s ability to reduce type 2 diabetes in this linked article.
Take Home Message
Research shows that diet, exercise and lifestyle modifications are the best ways to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.
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Diagnosis, Advice, and Treatment: This article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. The information provided in this article should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A qualified physician should be consulted for the diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 or an emergency hotline for all medical emergencies. As well, consult a licensed physician before changing your diet, supplement or exercise programs. Photos, External Links & Endorsements: This article is not intended to endorse companies, organizations or products. Links to external websites, depiction/mention of company names or brands, are intended only for illustration and do not constitute an endorsement.
Edward W Gregg, et al. Trends in lifetime risk and years of life lost due to diabetes in the USA, 1985–2011: a modelling study. 12 August 2014. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Volume 2, Issue 11, 867 – 874.