Increasing Risk of Diabetes

A study published in the Lancet, a leading international medical journal, shows that the risk of developing diabetes is increasing rapidly among Americans and it also depends on your race and education.

Though the study only examined diabetes in the context of American people, it is likely that similar results would have been obtained had the study been conducted with Europeans or others where a Western-type diet and life-style is the norm.

Increasing Risk of Diabetes

The study revealed that there was a dramatic rise between 1985 and 2011 in the overall risk that an American will develop diabetes.

In 1985, American boys had a 21 percent chance of developing diabetes, and girls 27 percent. By 2011, however, that risk had jumped to 40 percent for both boys and girls. In other words, the risk for boys had almost doubled, while the risk for girls had gone up 50 percent. Part of the reason could be the fact that people are living longer so that they have more years during which they can develop diabetes.

Race and Gender

While Caucasians overall have a gloomy 40 percent chance of developing diabetes, the outlook for African-Americans and Hispanics is much grimmer.

Caucasian boys have a 37% and Caucasian girls a 34% risk of developing diabetes. By contrast, the chances for African-American men are 44.7%, while for their women, the risk is 55.3%. The chances of developing diabetes for Hispanic boys and girls are 51.8% and 51.5% respectively.

These figures reinforce the idea that diabetes has a genetic origin, at least to the extent that your genes can predispose you to diabetes. Most medical researchers agree that this is due to your lifestyle

According to the researchers, they analysed race because that was the data they had available; but they did state that socio-economic status is probably as important, if not more important than, as race.

Nevertheless, the risk of developing diabetes for Caucasians is much less than it is for African-Americans and Hispanics.

Education

The less educated you are, the greater your risk of developing diabetes.

In 2008, the number of new diagnoses among high-school drop-outs was 15.6 er thousand, while among high-school graduates it was 9.5 and for those who studied beyond high-school 6.5 thousand.

Since then the rate at which new diagnoses are being discovered has dropped off a bit. This may be due to improving lifestyles.

At the same time, according to the latest statistics, high school dropouts are likely, on average, to develop diabetes at about twice the rate of persons who continued their education after graduating from high school.

It seems likely that the more educated you are, the more likely you are to live a healthy lifestyle and to take the threat of diabetes seriously.

The take-away

These findings of the Lancet study mean that there will be a continued need for health services and extensive funding to manage the disease. They also emphasise the need for effective interventions to reduce the incidence of diabetes, such as education in healthy lifestyles and regular testing of the entire population to detect pre-diabetes.