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Diabetes Health Center

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Type 2 Diabetes: New Cases Rising

Obese Americans Show Greatest Increase, Researchers Report
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 19, 2006 -- New cases of type 2 diabetesdiabetes are rising dramatically among U.S. adults, a new study shows.

The study appears in the journal Circulation's rapid access online edition. It tracks new cases of type 2 diabetes in about 3,100 men and women from the 1970s through the 1990s.

The key finding? New cases (incidence) of diabetes doubled during the last 30 years, mainly among obese people, write Caroline Fox, MD, MPH, and colleagues.

Fox works with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study, a long-term heart study based in Framingham, Mass. The new diabetes data comes from the adult children of Framingham Heart Study participants.

New Cases More Common

When the study started, none of the participants had diabetes. At least once a decade, the men and women got checkups for the study. Those checkups included three measurements: height, weight, and blood sugar levels after fasting.

The study included 1,587 women and 1,517 men, divided into three cohorts of similar age. At the start in each decade, participants in the group to be studied were about 47 years old.

In the group studied during the 1970s, type 2 diabetes was diagnosed in 2% of the women and 2.7% of the men. In the 1980s group, those figures rose to 3% for women and 3.6% for men. During the 1990s, the numbers were their highest in 30 years: 3.7% for women and 5.8% for men in that group.

Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1 diabetes. In both types of diabetes, the body has trouble controlling blood sugar due to problems with insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar.

In type 1 diabetes, the body loses its ability to make insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body can still make insulin, but doesn't heed insulin like it should. As a result, the body has to ramp up insulin production and loses its ability to keep pace with demand, leading to high levels of blood sugar.

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