Two out of five US adults at risk of developing diabetes: Study

An overweight Huntington resident heads into a local supermarket for groceries. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
An overweight Huntington resident heads into a local supermarket for groceries. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Two out of five US adults born between 2000 and 2011 are expected to develop type 2 diabetes at some point in their life, which is double the rate for men and some 50 per cent higher for women born two decades earlier, according to a new study.

Rising life expectancies and higher rates of obesity are contributing factors to the higher risk of developing diabetes, according to the study published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

The lifetime risk of an American born between 2000 and 2011 developing the disease is roughly 40 per cent for men and women, up from 20 per cent for men and 27 per cent for women between 1985 and 1989, the study said.

Hispanics and black women faced an even greater threat, with roughly half of people in those groups predicted to develop the disease during their lives. "Soaring rates of diabetes since the late 1980s and longer overall life expectancy in the general population have been the main drivers of the striking increase in the lifetime risk of diabetes over the last 26 years," Dr. Edward Gregg, lead author and a chief of diabetes epidemiology and statistics at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

More than 29 million people in the United States are estimated to have diabetes, the overwhelming majority of them suffering from the type 2 variety. It is the leading cause of kidney failure and non-accidental amputations in the country and ranks among the top causes of death, the CDC said.

While the disease is often preventable or controllable with healthier eating habits and regular exercise, the financial costs on the country are enormous. In 2012, direct medical expenses and indirect costs, such as work loss and premature death, were estimated at US$245 billion (S$306 billion), according to the CDC. "More effective lifestyle interventions are urgently needed to reduce the number of new cases in the USA and other developed nations," Gregg said.

The study relied on nationally representative surveys and death certificates for some 600,000 adults between 1985 and 2011.