US data reveal 24m diabetes sufferers

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Diabetes, Nutrition

Twenty-four million Americans - or 8 percent of the total US
population - currently suffer from diabetes, according to the
latest government statistics released yesterday.

The 2007 prevalence data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that three million more Americans suffer from diabetes today compared to two years ago. The new statistics come as nothing new to the nation's food industry, which is already in the midst of a massive re-positioning towards health and wellness. However, the figures do contribute to a more focused understanding of the US consumer and the market potential for products specifically targeting diabetics. Awareness ​Together with the increased incidence rate, CDC also found that awareness of diabetes is increasing. The percentage of people suffering from diabetes without knowing it decreased from 30 percent two years ago to 25 percent last year, the agency found. Essentially, this translates to 18m Americans today who may actively seek foods suitable for diabetics, compared to 14.7m two years ago. Diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production that causes sugar to build up in the body. People suffering from the condition generally need to stick to a diet high in fiber and low in sugar and fat, particularly saturated fat. Response ​ Food and drink formulators have made great headway in providing 'diabetic-friendly' products made with alternative ingredients, but there has also been a huge focus on ingredients and products that can actually help prevent or help manage the condition. Some examples of ingredients that have been linked to diabetes benefits in studies published over the past two months alone include pine bark extract, canola protein, cocoa flavanols and curcumin. Affected population ​ According to CDC, which is part of the government's Department of Health and Human Sciences, diabetes has increased in both men and women over the past two years, but it still disproportionately affects the elderly. Almost 25 percent of the population 60 years and older had diabetes in 2007. The condition also continues to have higher prevalence rates among certain ethnic groups. After adjusting for population age differences between the groups, the rate of diagnosed diabetes was highest among Native Americans and Alaska Natives (16.5 percent). This was followed by blacks (11.8 percent) and Hispanics (10.4 percent). The rate for Asian Americans was 7.5 percent with whites at 6.6 percent. CDC also provided estimates of diagnosed diabetes in different counties in the US. The data revealed increased diabetes rates in areas of the Southeast and Appalachia that have traditionally been recognized as being at higher risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke. The agency has published the latest data in the 2007 National Diabetes Fact Sheet developed by CDC together with other government agencies. To view the fact sheet, click here​.

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