People living in the diabetes belt counties were more likely to be black (23.8 percent in diabetes belt counties versus 8.6 percent in the rest of the country), and were more likely to be obese (32.9 percent in the diabetes belt compared to 26.1 percent in the rest of the country). And, a sedentary lifestyle was more common in the diabetes belt areas than nationally (30.6 percent versus 24.8 percent, respectively).
The study also found that the number of people with a college degree was lower in the diabetes belt counties than in the rest of the country: 24.1 percent versus 34.3 percent.
Results of the study were released online March 8 in advance of publication in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"We've identified a part of the country where people are at a greater risk of developing diabetes. We can use this information to identify regions where the need for prevention is greatest," said Barker.
"This study identifies an area where people are at very high risk of diabetes, but there are other hotspots in the country, such as certain areas in Detroit or New York City," said Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
"The study also says that about 30 percent of the risk of type 2 diabetes is probably modifiable with a better diet and more physical activity," noted Zonszein. It's also very important to diagnose the disease early and start treatment as soon as possible to help avoid complications, he added.
"Early diagnosis leads to better outcomes," Zonszein said.
"For people who don't yet have type 2 diabetes, physical activity and losing weight can help reduce the risk of developing the disease, and people in the diabetes belt are even more at
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