Forty Percent of North Americans Will Become Diabetic

The diabetes and obesity epidemics increase lifetime risk of type II diabetes to about 40 percent for both men and women, said Edward Gregg, chief of the epidemiology and statistics branch in the division of diabetes translation at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, published online Aug. 13, 2014). Fifty percent of black women and Hispanic men and women are expected to develop this environmental disease.

Researchers evaluated medical information and death certificates for about 600,000 adults between 1985 and 2011. In this 25-year period, risk of diabetes for a 20-year-old man jumped from nearly 21 percent in the late 1980s to just over 40 percent in 2011. For a 20-year-old woman, risk jumped from 27 percent in the 1980s to almost 40 percent in 2011.

Lifestyle Changes are More Important than Drugs Several recent studies suggest that making lifestyle changes including losing weight, exercising and eating a healthful diet can help to prevent diabetes. For six years, 577 adults with high blood sugar levels followed a diet and exercise program to prevent and treat diabetes (The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, published online April 3, 2014). Seventeen years later, compared to a similar group that had not been on the six-year diet and exercise instructions: • Deaths from heart attacks were reduced by almost 50 percent, • Deaths from all causes were reduced by 30 percent, and • Incidence of diabetes was reduced by more than 25 percent. For specific recommendations on how to prevent and treat diabetes, see Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Diabetes: New Studies

Get our newsletter