One-Third of U.S. Adults Could Have Diabetes by 2050: CDC

The number of American adults with diabetes could double or triple by 2050 if current trends continue, warns a federal government study released Friday. The number of new diabetes cases a year will increase from 8 per 1,000 in 2008 to 15 per 1,000 in 2050, predicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2050, between one-fifth and one-third of all adults could have diabetes with virtually all the increase attributed to type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable.

An aging population, an increase in minority groups at higher risk for diabetes, and the fact that diabetes patients are living longer are among the reasons for the steep projected rise. "These are alarming numbers that show how critical it is to change the course of type 2 diabetes," Ann Albright, director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, said in an agency news release. "Successful programs to improve lifestyle choices on healthy eating and physical activity must be made more widely available, because the stakes are too high and the personal toll too devastating to fail."

Another expert agreed. "These data are accurate and reflect reality," said Dr. Mary Ann Banerji, professor of medicine and director of the Diabetes Treatment Center at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, New York City. "Taking into consideration minorities and longer life expectancy, the real burden of diabetes is much greater than many people thought." Banerji believes that "we need to act now. Immediate changes in diet, physical activity, stress and sleep are known to decrease diabetes and obesity. We can make changes in our physical environment to promote greater physical activity and we should consider changes in national food policy."
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