1 in 7 diabetic Americans is unaware of disease; new report

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A new report published Sept. 19 as an NCHS data brief shows 1 in 7 diabetic Americans don’t even know they have the blood sugar disease.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (FDA), 14 percent of U.S adults have diabetes, 10 percent know it and more than 4 percent are undiagnosed.

Lead researcher Mark Eberhardt, an epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) said “Diabetes remains a chronic health problem in this country, affecting some 30 million people.”

Eberhardt said factors such as the aging population and the obesity epidemic may be responsible for the increases in diabetes.

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People need to be tested for diabetes even if they think they don’t have it, he said. The data showed that a third of those in the study didn’t think they had diabetes, but tests showed they did, Eberhardt said.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the vast majority — about 95 percent — of diabetes cases are type 2, which is often (but not always) tied to overweight or obesity. About five percent of diabetes cases are type 1, which can arise early in life and is not linked with lifestyle factors.

According to the report, nearly 16 percent of men have diabetes, and about 12 percent of women. Moreover, the odds of developing diabetes, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, increases with age.

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In terms of populations, diabetes is more common among Hispanics (20 percent) and blacks (18 percent) than whites (12 percent).

The overweight and obese are also more likely to develop diabetes, the researchers found. Only 6 percent of underweight or normal-weight adults had the disease, while 12 percent of overweight adults and 21 percent of obese adults did.

Although treatment for diabetes is available, Eberhardt said, the public health goal should be taking steps to prevent the disease. “Sometimes prevention is the best treatment,” he said.

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