Rising Obesity is South Leading to Rapid Increases in Diabetes


A new study done by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center found that among low-income black and whites living in the southern United States, rates of new obesity-associated diabetes were exceptionally high. The researches used data from an organization known as the Souther Community Cohort Study, an ongoing study in the southern U.S. that examines the causes of cancers, obesity, diabetes, and other major diseases. The researchers analyzed 44% of adults who did not initially have diabetes yet were obese, and the other 57% were African American women. From this data, the researchers found that up to 12% of African Americans and 6% of caucasians developed type 2 diabetes, and among those with morbid obesity, 20% of African Americans and 17% of caucasians developed diabetes after a 4.5 year follow-up.

According to senior author Dr. William J Blot: “The study reveals that rates of diabetes are exceptionally high among low-income southerners who are morbidly obese.” He also mentions that diabetes was twice as common among blacks than whites, but as BMI levels rose to over 40 kg/m^2, the diabetes became just as common in both, indicating that there is a correlation between obesity and diabetes. The researchers estimate that 2/3 of the participants will have diabetes in the next 20 years.

Surveys by the CDC shows that the prevalence of obesity has increased by 15% from 1990 to 2010. We know that obesity is a huge problem, especially in the U.S., however what is now another key concern is its correlation to diabetes. Obesity is a huge risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and is more common among blacks and people with low incomes and education levels. In the CDC study, participants were from 12 southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. 85,000 adults from ages 40 to 79 during 2002 to 2009 were studied. Two-thirds of the participants were black and 20% had diabetes. It was again found that among non-obese participants, diabetes was twice as common among blacks than whites. Both studies show that the impact of obesity was far greater than expected, especially people who were either black, poor, or uneducated.

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