Slate has produced a sobering time lapse animation showing the inexorable spread of diabetes across America.
The rise in diabetes is, of course, linked to the rising rates of obesity across America. But what's truly stunning is just how prevalent the disease has become, and how meteoric the growth rates are. Here's what the country looks like on a county-by-county basis in 2004. The darker the color, the higher the incidence of diabetes:
Over at the interactive version, you can see that a few pockets of the U.S. have some astoundingly high incidence rates -- well over 10% in several counties in Mississippi, for example. Though it seems like the hardest hit areas are rural, you can also see alarmingly high rates in the suburbs around big cities such as Atlanta and Dallas. But it gets worse. Here's the data in 2006:
And the incidences of diabetes in the U.S. continue to increase. Here's what it looks like in 2008:
There are huge patches where diabetes runs above 12.5% across multiple counties, and even in cities such as Houston, rates are above 10%. By now, a clear pattern is emerging: Diabetes is spreading like a virus across the south and Appalachia, across regions known for weak economies. The map is perhaps the most bracing confirmation possible that low incomes and diabetes develop in lockstep.
COMMENTARY: Research for the treatment and an eventual cure for diabetes continues throughout the world. In the U.S., the Diabetes Research Institute stands at the forefront of diabetes research. Dr. Camillo Ricordo, DRI Science Director says, "We will cure diabetes. This is not a prediction; it is a promise.".
The DRI is a bevy of information on the latest diabetes research, not only through the DRI, but throughout the world. I was able to obtain the following eye-opening diabetes fact sheet through the DRI:
Diabetes Fact Sheet
- Almost 24 million Americans have diabetes, including as many as six million individuals who have diabetes and don’t know it.
- Diabetes kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
- In 2007, diabetes claimed more than 284,000 American lives.
- Diabetes costs the American people an estimated $218 billion each year.
- Diabetes impacts all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds.
- Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to create or effectively use its own insulin, which is produced by islet cells found in the pancreas.
- Insulin helps regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels – providing energy to body cells and tissues.
- Without insulin, the body’s cells would be starved, causing dehydration and destruction of body tissue.
- Injecting insulin is not a cure for diabetes. It is a critical life-saving component of a daily treatment program.
- Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death by disease among adults and reduces life expectancy by one-third.
- Approximately 4,110 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each day.
- Almost three million Americans are hospitalized each year due to diabetes.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in adults ages 20-74.
- Sixty-five percent of deaths among people with diabetes are due to heart disease and stroke.
- Persons with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than people without diabetes.
- More than 60 percent of all nontraumatic amputations occur among people with diabetes.
- Nearly 44 percent of all kidney failure is caused by diabetes. Diabetic patients are 17 times more prone to kidney disease than people who do not have the disease.
- Diabetes is also the leading cause of end stage renal disease.
- Women with diabetes face high-risk pregnancies, which can result in babies born with many health problems.
Courtesy of the Diabetes Research Institute and an article dated December 21, 2010 appearing in Fast Company Design