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105 Million in U.S. Have Diabetes or Prediabetes, CDC Says
Date:1/26/2011

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetes now affects nearly 26 million Americans of all ages and 79 million people have what doctors call "prediabetes," according to 2011 estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prediabetes, which the CDC says affects 35 percent of adults, is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes greatly boosts a person's odds for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The vast majority of cases of diabetes are type 2, which develops when the body's cells gradually lose sensitivity to insulin.

According to experts, there's one very big reason for type 2 diabetes' continuing rise among Americans -- weight gain.

"The percentage of U.S. adults who are overweight or obese has also risen dramatically, and there is no doubt that rising rates of obesity are linked to the rising rates of diabetes," said Dr. Christine Resta, an expert on diabetes in the division of endocrinology at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City.

But changes in the way doctors diagnose the illness may have played a role in rising numbers, too, another expert said.

"One of the reasons the incidence of diabetes has been increasing in the last few years is because the American Diabetes Association lowered the guidelines for diabetes diagnosis," explained Dr. Jacob Warman, chief of endocrinology at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "Last year, the ADA recommended using [hemoglobin] A1c levels to diagnose both diabetes and prediabetes. This change in criteria resulted in a great increase of the number of patients with this diagnosis. The decision to change the criteria remains controversial, but the guidelines to increase exercise and decrease carbohydrate intake are valid."

In their report, the CDC agreed that the switch to hemoglobin A1c testing -- which measu
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