The incidence of diabetes among obese people is rising even while it is falling among normal-weight people, according to a new study.
Researcher Solveig Cunningham, a professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta said: “We see increases in (overall) diabetes incidence. But, if you parse out the data by weight, almost the entirety of the increase was in the obese population. In normal-weight people, diabetes incidence was going down.”
The October issue of the journal Diabetes Care published the findings.
Of the estimated 26 million Americans who have diabetes, most had type 2, according to the American Diabetes Association.
“There are a lot of health care implications from our study,” Cunningham said. “If we’re going to be targeting diabetes as a preventable disease, which type 2 diabetes is, we need to focus on obese individuals. And I think we need to take new approaches to try to lower diabetes risk in this group. The present efforts to curb diabetes have been successful for some segments of the population, but less so for the obese.”
The study relied on several sources, including the National Vital Statistics System and the National Health Interview Survey, to obtain data on patients’ ages, sex, body-mass indices, diabetes status, and death rates.
“From population studies like this, it’s hard to predict the impact on an individual, but once people get diabetes, it can have a huge impact on their life expectancy and their quality of life,” Dr. Vivian Fonseca, of the ADA, said.