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Americans Spending More of Their Lives Struggling With Diabetes
Date:9/26/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Americans may be living longer than ever before, but they're not necessarily living better. And that's especially true for people who are obese, a new study finds.

An obese man can expect to live almost six more years of his life with diabetes, compared to the same estimate in the 1980s. For women, the extra time with diabetes is now 2.5 years.

"At the same time we've been seeing decreases in mortality, we're not seeing a decrease in diabetes-free life," said study author Solveig Cunningham, an assistant professor in global health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, in Atlanta.

"At the population level, we see increases in 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," she noted.

Results of the study are published in the October issue of Diabetes Care.

Almost 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. The vast majority of those have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body no longer uses insulin effectively (insulin resistance) or doesn't produce enough insulin to meet the body's needs. Being overweight or obese is a common risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, although not everyone who develops this form of diabetes is overweight.

For the current study, Cunningham and her colleagues reviewed data from several sources, such as the National Vital Statistics System and the National Health Interview Survey.

From these sources, they obtained population data on age, sex, body mass index, diabetes status and deaths.

The average life expectancy at birth in America is now 77.7 years, according to background information in the article.

Even as life expectancy was increasing in the Un
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