CDC updates diabetes prevalence estimates

The number of individuals who have either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes continues to rise at an alarming rate, according to new numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The health agency released a report Wednesday indicating that 26 million people in the U.S. now have the condition. This is an increase of more than 2 million over the CDC's last estimate, which came in 2008. To make matters worse, 27 percent of these individuals are unaware of their condition.

Furthermore, the situation is expected to get worse. According to the report, an additional 79 million individuals have pre-diabetes, which is a condition that is characterized by insulin resistance and greatly increases a person's odds of developing full diabetes. The estimate says that 35 percent of the adult population now has pre-diabetes.

When this figure is added to the number of individuals who have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, it paints a grim picture of America's metabolic health, and supports estimates of a looming catastrophe. Earlier estimates from the CDC indicated that one-third of all U.S. adults will have some form of the condition by 2050.

This could have major implications for the nation's efforts to close growing budget deficits and rein in skyrocketing healthcare costs. Since there is currently no cure for the condition, diabetes is one of the most expensive diseases to care for. Individuals with the condition require constant testing, frequent doctor visits and expensive medications.

CDC officials said that individuals should take steps to improve their overall health and limit their type 2 diabetes risk. Studies have shown that losing 5 to 7 percent of total body mass cuts the odds of developing the condition by up to 60 percent, the agency said.
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