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Appalachia, Southeast Hit Hardest by Obesity and Diabetes
Date:11/19/2009

CDC county-by-county analysis finds some areas with 1 in 10 adults already diabetic

THURSDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- While rates of obesity are climbing across America, they are especially high in sections of Appalachia and the Southeast, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in its first county-by-county survey.

Obesity and diabetes "are basically the two conditions of greatest concern for U.S. adults right now," said study lead author Edward Gregg, chief of epidemiology and statistics in the CDC's division of diabetes translation.

"They have been increasing for the last 10 to 15 years," he said. "This is the first time we've been able to look at the most local level, defining where the problem is." The findings are published in the Nov. 20 issue of the agency's journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In the Appalachia region that includes Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, 81 percent of counties have high rates of diabetes and obesity. In the Southeast region that includes Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina, three-quarters of the counties have similarly high rates of both.

In many counties within those regions, more than 10 percent of residents have a diabetes diagnosis, and obesity prevalence is more than 30 percent.

Poor diets and sedentary lifestyles, both commonplace in modern American life, are known to contribute to type 2 diabetes and obesity.

"We think these increases in obesity and diabetes partially reflect the cultural shifts that are affecting all of us," said Gregg, "but we see them most in regions where there is more poverty and where educational levels are lower."

The two conditions go hand in hand, Gregg said. "Diabetes is one of the most tangible damaging effects of obesity. People who are very obese have four to five times the risk of developing diabetes than people of normal weight,
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