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U.S. 'diabetes belt' is identified
March 7th, 2011
07:00 PM ET

U.S. 'diabetes belt' is identified

Back in the 1960s, U.S.  health officials pinpointed the geographic area where the most strokes occurred, defining it as  the "stroke belt" to better understand the causes of that medical condition.  Now in April's issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers have been able to identify a "diabetes belt"  of 644 counties in 15 U.S. states. Located primarily in the southeastern part of the country, the belt defines where diabetes care and prevention are most needed.

“Identifying a diabetes belt by counties allows community leaders to identify regions most in need of efforts to prevent type 2 diabetes and to manage existing cases of the disease,” said lead investigator Dr. Lawrence E. Barker of the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. “Although many risk factors for type 2 diabetes can’t be changed, others can. Community design that promotes physical activity, along with improved access to healthy food, can encourage the healthy lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”

How well are you managing your diabetes? Take this test

Data were collected throughout the U.S. By comparing demographics and risk factors such as gender, age, education, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and race/ethnicity, researchers found four factors that distinguished the diabetes belt from the rest of the country.

• Population of the diabetes belt counties contained substantially more non-Hispanic African Americans compared with the rest of the country; about 23.8% for the diabetes belt, while the rest of the country was at 8.6%.

• Prevalence of obesity was greater in the diabetes belt than in the rest of the U.S: 32.9% vs. 26.1%.

• Sedentary lifestyle was greater in the diabetes belt than in the rest of the U.S.: 30.6% vs. 24.8% for the rest of the nation.

• And the proportion of people with a college degree was smaller in the diabetes belt.

The belt includes portions of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as the entire state of Mississippi.

Tips for managing diabetes

Researchers also noted, almost one-third of the difference in the number of diabetes cases between the diabetes belt and the rest of the U.S. is associated with sedentary lifestyle and obesity.

“People who live in the diabetes belt will reduce their chance of developing type 2 diabetes if they are more active physically and, for those who are overweight or obese, if they lose weight," Barker said. "Taking these steps will eventually lower the prevalence of diabetes within the diabetes belt.”


soundoff (267 Responses)
  1. @dhlibrary

    Love all the posts ! But how many of you can accurately define diabetes or know it well enough to accurately describe it to someone else? Diabetes is sad. Learn more about it at diabeteshealthlibrary dot com.

    March 9, 2011 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. C_D_J55

    Quit whining! Diabetes is for minorities or poor whites, only! LOL

    March 10, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. tanisha

    What about type 1 diabetes is there a belt for that one

    March 15, 2011 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. kurgen99

    RED STATES

    March 17, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Elayne

    Really? I am appalled at all the judgmental and derogatory comments posted here! I think that empowering people by educating them about healthier food choices, and better lifestyle choices is a better approach. Maybe depression plays a role, or being raised a certain way, or it is familial , or their genetic make up that gives them a predisposition to obesity or diabetes...or maybe they just give up because society looks down on them as lepers,and outcasts ( as most of these comments clearly prove). It saddens me that people continue to judge a book by it's cover, than the subsistence and beauty that is inside. I do not believe this is the way to make change in the up-rise in obesity and or diabetes. I wonder if you all would feel the same, and say nasty things of people with cancer, or some other disease? It disheartens me deeply.....that the same people who made these nasty and judgmental comments, probably would....I guess like racism and hatred, it is a learned behavior. Maybe everyone should look in the mirror, and start cleaning up their own backyards first!

    March 19, 2011 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Phip

    Looks like the folks from the south should sue the US Journal of Medicine and the CDC for some form of discrimination.

    March 19, 2011 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. pepperpod

    First of all I'd like to say that some of you people that think you're so informed on this subject. I was born and raised in Alabama and now live in Tennessee (for 10 yrs). I work in a Diabetes clinic doing 3D retinal photography on Diabetics. It is true that diet plays a huge role in some cases, but many of our Type II patients are not overweight and exercise regularly. BTW I love the south because people are more friendly here. My husband is the Manager of the Open heart Surgery teams at one of our largest hospitals here. He has seen what a fatty diet can do to a person and yet many of the people they do open heart surgery on were jogging, scuba diving, playing golf or eating rabbit food everyday when they suddenly fell over. Our son lives in Portland oregon and all he talks about is how healthy everyone is there. He eats organic food AND HE SMOKES....go figure. You know we forget that we are not really supposed to live as long as we do and sooner or later these diseases are going to catch up with all of us unless we are blessed enough to have good genes and live to be in our 90's and die in our sleep. I am 5'8 and weigh 175, my husband is 6'0 and weighs 165 and I bet he gets diabetes before I do because his dad who was thin developed it in his 70's and my husband has a stressful job. there are 9 in my family and all obese except for me and one sister and only one has diabetes.............I am neither DUMB nor FAT thank you!

    March 21, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lee

    "Data were collected"?! Who edits these reports?

    March 25, 2011 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Tony

    Gotta love it when people are sterotyping other people.

    March 26, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Stephen Stohler DC

    This is very important information as a Chiropractor and Lifestyle educator, this will help policy makers target where education needs are greatest. Ultimately this helps everyone as we improve our nations health we reduce health care costs and make our country stronger.

    April 7, 2011 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.