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Southeastern States Mired in the 'Diabetes Belt': CDC Report
Date:3/8/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- People living in certain areas of the United States are more likely to develop diabetes, according to a new government analysis.

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have discovered that a wide swath across mostly southern U.S. states has diabetes rates above 11 percent, compared to 8.5 percent for the rest of the country.

"There's a region of the U.S. that we identified as the 'diabetes belt,'" said study author Lawrence Barker, associate director for science in the division of diabetes translation at the CDC in Atlanta. "People living inside the belt are more likely to have diabetes than those who live outside the belt," he explained.

The CDC currently estimates that diabetes affects almost 26 million American adults, or just over 8 percent. There are two types of diabetes: type 1, which used to be known as juvenile diabetes; and type 2, formerly known as adult-onset diabetes.

Type 2 accounts for the majority of diabetes -- possibly as much as 95 percent of all cases, according to Barker -- and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is influenced by genetics, weight and physical activity. Type 1 is believed to be an autoimmune disease. Weight and physical activity levels don't contribute to the development of type 1 diabetes, he noted.

Barker and his colleagues reviewed data from the U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and compared the data to county-level estimates of diabetes prevalence. These data sources didn't allow the researchers to break down the estimates by diabetes type, Barker pointed out.

Like the U.S. "stroke belt," discovered in the mid-1960s, the "diabetes belt" is located primarily in the southeastern states.

The diabetes belt consists of 644 counties in 15 states, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nor
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