Up to 50% of new type 2 diabetes cases in the U.S. linked to obesity

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In a new study from Northwestern University, researchers found obesity drives up to half of all type 2 diabetes cases in the United States, new research shows, highlighting the need for greater prevention.

They found the frequency of obesity was increasing among adults and was consistently higher among those with Type 2 diabetes. Obesity was linked to 30%-53% of new Type 2 diabetes diagnoses each year over the past two decades.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 31 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Being overweight or obese is one of several risk factors.

Others are being over the age of 45; having an immediate family member diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes; being physically inactive; and having had diabetes during pregnancy.

The number of deaths among people under the age of 65 caused by Type 2 diabetes has been rising, along with serious complications such as amputations and hospitalizations.

Adults with diabetes also are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as those without diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented, and even reversed, through lifestyle changes.

Previous research has shown that losing weight, eating a healthful diet and increasing physical activity can reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes by up to 58%, even in those at high risk. For people over 60, the risk can be reduced by up to 71%.

In the study, the team analyzed data collected from 2000 to 2017 in two studies, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

In the NHANES analysis, they found the frequency of obesity rose from 34% to 41% and was consistently higher among people with Type 2 diabetes.

In the MESA data, people with obesity were nearly three times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to those who weren’t obese.

The researchers expressed concern over the obesity epidemic colliding with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The greater severity of COVID-19 infection in individuals with obesity is concerning because of the growing burden of adverse health consequences they could experience in the near future.

Further efforts are needed to help more adults adopt healthier lifestyles and hopefully reduce the prevalence of obesity.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about common heartburn drugs may increase risk of type 2 diabetes and findings of COVID-19 may lead to a new wave of diabetes.

For more information about diabetes and your health, please see recent studies about a new way to detect diabetes-related blindness early and results showing that early blood-sugar levels in type 2 diabetes crucial for future death risk.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. One author of the study is Dr. Natalie A. Cameron.

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