Obesity contributes to nearly half of new diabetes in US every year

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In a new study, researchers found that reducing the prevalence of obesity may prevent up to half of new Type 2 diabetes cases in the United States.

Obesity is a major contributor to diabetes, and the new finding suggests more tailored efforts are needed to reduce the incidence of obesity-related diabetes.

The research was conducted by a team at Northwestern University.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 31 million Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being overweight or having obesity; being over the age of 45; having an immediate family member diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes; being physically active less than 3 times per week; or a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy).

The number of deaths due to Type 2 diabetes in people younger than 65 is increasing along with serious complications of the condition, including amputations and hospitalizations.

In addition, Type 2 diabetes impacts heart disease and stroke risk: adults with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes.

In the study, the team used data from a longitudinal study of 45 to 84-year-olds who did not have heart disease upon recruitment.

For their analysis, the team limited data to participants ages 45 to 79-years old. The people did not have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study.

They found the overall prevalence of obesity increased from 34% to 41% and was consistently higher among adults with Type 2 diabetes.

Obesity was linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes in 30 – 53% of cases.

People with obesity were nearly three times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to those without obesity (20% vs. 7.3%, respectively).

The findings highlight the meaningful impact that reducing obesity could have on Type 2 diabetes prevention in the United States.

The team says decreasing obesity needs to be a priority.

Public health efforts that support healthy lifestyles, such as increasing access to nutritious foods, promoting physical activity and developing community programs to prevent obesity, could substantially reduce new cases of Type 2 diabetes.

One author of the study is Natalie A. Cameron, M.D., a resident physician of internal medicine.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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