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 (287 Responses)
  1. LEB

    So the south is fat and unhealthy. Is this really a surprise to anyone?

    March 7, 2011 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MD

      I've seen fat people all over the nation.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      I saw a cruise ship being boarded by people on the south coast. Every single one of the passengers was overweight, some hugely. It was nothing special, no "obsity only" charter, just horribly overweight Americans. They should induct them all into the army, that would shape them up.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Eric of Reseda

      @MD – Well of course there are fat people all over the country. The article talks about the prevalence of diabetes in the Southern states and, GUARANTEED, you'll find more fatso's in the South than say, on the West Coast or New York. The thing is, too many people in these Southern states – and elsewhere – are too-willing consumers of the crap the Food industry wants to sell them. A walk through the mainstream supermarkets down there is frightening when you look at the ingredients and variety. Not everyone has to shop at Whole Foods, but people can certainly apply the concept of fresh, simple ingredients in their diet.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
    • ygbfsm

      Yes, especially those diabetes belt parts of "Ohio and Pennsylvania"... you got it too paison, West VA and VA are also in tow... It's fortunate northern states don't have fat folks sitting in "dinah's" eating cruellers, or fat pasta feeders. Hey, did you take care o' dat ting like I asked gumba? Whadda you mean you ate it???

      March 8, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
    • BaltoPaul

      You might have seen fat people all over the nation, but until you've seen Saturday night on the Redneck Riveira, you ain't seen nothin'!

      March 8, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
    • ygbfsm

      The map is at ScienceNews.org. In addition to Ohio, PA and the VA's, high-diabetes pockets crop up in Oklahoma, Michigan, Arizona, the Dakotas and elsewhere. Burying your head in the sand and pointing a finger at southern states only is of course the best alternative, really.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
    • VA4LUVRZ

      My dad was just diagnosed as type 2 and he is not fat or unhealthy. We believe since are family is from hills of NC he may have some American Indian blood. His doctor told him they have a high rate of "the sugar" genetically ingrained.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
    • chief

      saying that there are more fat people in the south is like saying there are more complete idiots in massachusetts than the rest of the northeast.... well i guess your right

      March 8, 2011 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
    • John D.

      Seems Leb's reading comprehension is poor. Why am I not surprised. When "portions" of states is referred to, it does not mean the entire state or a whole section of the country.

      March 8, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • Chubby Checker

      You still need to have the genes that make you succeptable to type II diabetes. Every obese person does not have diebetes. It is a huge misconception that people have control over their genes and their fault of life style to the onset diebetes. I beleive that Doctors are even to blame for this inaccurate assesment of the disease. It should be pointed out that "IF" you have a family history of diebetes then and only then is your life style a factor. I also do not beleive that life style alone determines a persons weight problem. Many people have exactly the opposite of not being able to gain weight no matter how much or what diet they eat.I think that genetics are the main cause of obesity and that people with diebetes crave bad carbs because their body is telling them that they need more energy.With all that rambling it is still clear that if you are genetically prone to it you should eat healthy and exercise

      March 8, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
  2. Greg Adamson

    Why is it that all the "belts" cross my state of Alabama? Bible belt, Stroke belt,and now diabetes belt? Is there something wrong with us here people in da south?

    March 8, 2011 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Reality


      March 8, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      Seconded – YES.

      March 8, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
    • Jack Smith


      March 8, 2011 at 10:59 | Report abuse |
    • FromtheSouth


      March 8, 2011 at 11:32 | Report abuse |
    • Vason


      March 8, 2011 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • abby

      yes, unhealthy dietary habits can be killers.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • Tommas

      I think you a missing the last piece of the correlation, intelligence.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • LRGRL

      No. This study shows the direct correlation btn health issues and lower income people. When you have less disposable income you can't afford a gym membership, treadmill, and fresher foods, and usually going walking or bike riding in your neighborhood is dangerous. Not being unable to afford decent healthcare doesn't help.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • peterfny

      Unlike the uptight other parts of the country, they live their lives and don't care what other people think. Meanwhile in cities like New York you have mayors telling people what they can and can't eat, can and can't drink, can and can't drive. Sorry, I think the south isn't the place with the problem.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
    • Mtn Guy

      Most definitely. I've lived in the deep south all of my life and find the level of ignorance in much of the south, not all of it, in regards to healthy living very frustrating and difficult to understand, but it does appear to generally go hand-in-hand with academic and cultural ignorance.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
    • gsg

      Yes !! Over eaters, under exercise, eat fried foods/gravies, donuts, drink beer.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Gotta agree with PeterFNY. How dare someone tell me what's healthy and what's not! If I wanna eat these fried mayonnaise balls till my blood stops moving, that should be my prerogative! BTW, what's the holdup on this healthcare thing? I don't wanna have to pay for my next bypass.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • dawn

      mmmmm.... fried mayonnaise balls

      March 8, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • Lee Oates


      March 8, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • OldScribe2010


      March 8, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • John R

      "Yes, second that".

      Geez louise, you people are boring. The guy sets up a perfect joke and all any of you can do is give some simpleton yes's. Oh, the wit. Since we've all decided to take a serious tack, I wonder how fabulous all your home states are? I'm from the Pacific Northwest. There's nothing about Alabama I identify with, but I do know that in Huntsville there are some very smart people working on several different programs. I know they get more days of sunshine than rain. Actually, if you ask me, I think the whole US is about equally balance with benefits and screw-ups.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
    • edjmusic

      HAHA!! Dawn, you got a big laugh out of me on that one... fried mayonnaise balls!

      March 8, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse |
    • Andy Atlanta

      Yes. Most of the "I dont want the government to tell me how much salt to take" is from there.
      Now watch the tea baggers jump up and say – "this is an article about diabetes and why are you talking about salt.."

      March 8, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • WOBH

      I have spent time in the South (I'm from Canada) and I noticed that the roads are built for cars only. I would take a daily run and the shoulders of the roads were so narrow that it was dangerous for anyone running on the sade of the road. Bicycles would be impossible to ride down there.

      Between watching out for cars and copperheads I can understand why there are overweight people down there.

      March 8, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Bruce Heinemann

      Well, God bless their sweet lower vibrating little hearts. Those wonderful "God Fearing Christians" who gave us slavery, Jim Crow, slavery, Hayley Barbour, Jeff Session, and all the other little dixie fascist. Lower intelligence, education and the racist mentality are all common manifestation of your basic southerner. Not all, but by and large, most...

      March 8, 2011 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Living in CT

      WOBH is right. When I was living in NoVA, I had sidewalks to run on, and in CT, the roads are wide enough for clearing snow that there is ample room to run (except this winter). When I was stationed in North Carolina, that definitely wasn't the case. I had to do my PT on the base or run the risk of death by an F150 with a 31" lift. Narrow roads + no shoulders + deep drainage ditches = death trap.

      March 8, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • ugg


      March 9, 2011 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
  3. C-dog

    From this article, we can conclude that:
    1) Hispanic african americans are part of the cure to diabetes, since there are fewer in the southeast.
    2) Obesity is linked to diabetes.
    3) Sedentary life style is linked to diabetes.
    4) A college degree is as good as insulin.

    So, to wrap this up: diet, exercise, and college degree will prevent diabetes! Good work CDC!

    March 8, 2011 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dofacc

      Actually, people with higher education tend to eat better, and to have better access to health care. They are also more likely to us that health care.

      If you are informed, you can avoid making some of the poor decisions that some many people like to make. So, yes, a college degree does impact your risk of developing diabetes, and how you handle the disease if you develop it.

      March 8, 2011 at 10:00 | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      @C-dog, you say, “1) Hispanic african americans are part of the cure to diabetes, since there are fewer in the southeast.”

      This seems to have mis-lead several posters. The article says that the belt contained more
      American Blacks than the rest of the country. Why Hispanic Blacks are excluded from the equation is not explained but they may have been counted separately due to diet differences from other black people.
      In fact, Type II is epidemic among both Blacks and Hispanics. My guess would be that this is due to diet rather than genetic factors, and income levels as well as habits play a large part in the diet and subsequent diabetes.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      People with college degrees tend to live in "good" neighborhoods where you can go for a jog without worrying about getting shot or mugged.

      People with college degrees tend to only work a single 9-5 job (or thereabouts) instead of working 3 different part time gigs. This allows for better, more regular sleeping patterns, conducive to good health.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
    • MIKE

      No, what it's trying to say is the highly motivated people are not as fat. Excersie, education, and eatting correctly take effort.

      March 8, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
  4. Jon

    Aren't these the states that are complaining the most about the healthcare bill? They are part of the reason that healthcare costs are so high. That greasy, sugar laden southern food is not good for your health.

    March 8, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MD

      It has nothing to do with the healthcare bill. Personally, It;s difficult for poore families to afford fresh foods. The food that poor people can afford are high in carbs and fat. Alot of poorer familiies choose higher carb foods because they can stretch the dollar. They can't afford fresh vegetables, fruit and leaner cuts of meats. Typically, higher income families tend to choose fresh vegetables and fruits and lower cuts of meat, because they are more costly.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
    • Harry Ball

      As MD stated, poor people can't afford to eat healthy. It's common sense.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • anita

      But it sure is tasty....

      March 8, 2011 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • peterfny

      Perhaps (shock) people like LIVING their lives and eating fattening food, which (also shockingly) happens to taste GOOD. The only thing this study shows us is how we love wasting money in this country doing studies to point out what we've already known for about 200 years. Money well spent!

      March 8, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      @PeterFNY: Anyone who thinks that processed, greasy, super-saccharine food tastes better than a healthy home cooked meal is lying; most likely to cover their own laziness. No matter how good you think a McD's bigmac is, a nice pot roast with garlic potatoes and carrots will beat it down, any day. And a roast isn't even that hard to cook... but it does take more time and effort than "would you like fries with that," especially since you probably work at a fast food joint.

      Learn to cook, and not only will you be healthier for it, you'll enjoy much tastier food. Other nice side effects you may notice: not getting winded when walking to the kitchen for a snack, being able to purchase a single seat on airplanes, and never having to hear your girlfriend (boyfriend?) ask, "wait... already?" again

      March 8, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • DUH.

      Yep. I was born in, and have lived in, the South my entire life. However, I can't tell anyone here what they don't already know. The following are always going to be more prevalent in the South: Obesity, Lower Education Levels, Poverty, and Conservatism. Why? Because they are all bred from Ignorance, Naivete, Intolerance, Stubbornness and Apathy. We've got that going around in spades. But...we're friendly!

      March 8, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • John R

      Um, ARE those the states most complaining about the healthcare bill??? That's not the impression I've ever had.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
  5. David

    You also love advertising for free on CNN.com.

    March 8, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 25 cm pole

    Diabetes is for the fat

    March 8, 2011 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mama2KOA

      Explain juvenile diabetes that starts when kids are small and either normal or underweight

      March 8, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
    • 25 cm pole

      War... War never changes. Or does it? The war has changed. Has it? the answer is no. Unless it is yes. Yes? No? Yes, of course it is... Is war.

      March 8, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      I think it was meant to say type 2 diabetes is for the fat. Type 1 is usually what kids get....unless they are fed improperly.

      March 8, 2011 at 10:57 | Report abuse |
    • john

      You may want to specify type 2 Diabetes. Type 1 has nothing to do fat ass people.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • lmew

      My grandfather has type 2 diabetes and he is skinny.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      @imew: Type 2 just means that your pancreas stopped working some time in your adult life. There is a slight chance of this happening to any average (or even an extremely healthy person) However that scenario has been eclipsed in recent history by people who just get so fat that their pancreas says "F*** this, I quit"

      March 8, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • Daisy

      That is not necessarily true – Type 1 diabetes can strike anyone regardless of weight, or eating or exercise habits. Type 2 diabetes is more common in overweight people, but people who are not overweight also get it. But it's impressive that you can state your ignorance with such conviction.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • R. White

      I am diabetic and not overweight, and never have been. I developed diabetes while pregnant, and kept the condition after my (healthy) second child was born. Women developing Type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes is not uncommon. I am white, college educated and well informed about the condition. I exercise moderately and eat healthy and sensibly, and follow a diet that is stricter than most people can possibly imagine (or manage). To look at me, you would never stereotype me as having the disease. That's why it is dangerous to stereotype in the first place. Please don't speak authoritatively about something when you are so ill informed; it makes you appear foolish.

      March 8, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse |
  7. Bnode

    Regardless of how many breakthroughs in medicine and other technologies our society makes, natural selection continues to work as it always has .

    March 8, 2011 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rch1559

    Where the heck is the map? C'mon, CNN!

    March 8, 2011 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joyce

      Yeah-if you're from the South, you have no idea where those states are...

      March 8, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • TMAC

      @Joyce: Maybe they want to see the map b/c it says parts of some of the states and not all of the states. I'm from the South and I'm well aware of where the states are located; however, without the article listing which parts of certain states I have no idea if my local region is in the "belt" or not.

      "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."

      Thank you for expressing your ignorance and contempt of people who are slightly different than you without just cause.

      March 8, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
    • Joyce

      I'm from the South, too-but at least I have a sense of humor about it...

      March 8, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Hey now Joyce ... I've seen Kentuky on a map. it's purple!

      March 8, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Not to worry Joyce and Bob, some of us get it okay and like the funny stuff.
      Actually though, I am from Suthin Calafonya mahself.
      Y'all have a great day now, yuh hear?

      March 8, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
  9. Mama2KOA

    If food chemicals are the cause, then why did we still have diabetics during the 1700's and 1800's?

    March 8, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Drummergrrl

      They did not eat processed food back then..very little of the population has it..they were out working hard exercising. But there were probably sugar freaks then too..

      March 8, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
  10. JLS639

    We know what causes almost all forms of diabetes. The lab I work has induced it many times in lab animals with no use of "food chemicals." We overfeed with high fat diet. Others do it with high carbohydrate diets. This method, which is designed to simulate United States' average diet, works in mice, rats, monkeys and pigs (as well as many non-mammals). No "food chemicals" are required.

    March 8, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Orchids

      But what, exactly, are you feeding them? Are you sure the "fats" you add don't contain ANY hydrogentated oils? Sweeteners? How are you getting the animals to overeat the stuff, without adding something? I need more information.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • Orchids

      Comments were obviously supposed to go to JLS639.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
    • Orchids

      But what, exactly, are you feeding them? Are you sure the "fats" you add don't contain ANY hydrogentated oils? Sweeteners? How are you getting the animals to overeat the stuff, without adding something? I need more information.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
  11. Dennis

    "non-Hispanic African Americans" – would these be the blue-eyed, non-red haired, 5' 10" plus folks?

    Is culture and continental origin a major scientific indicator? Africa, contrary to some political views, is very genetically diverse, as is the Hispanic culture.

    March 8, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruby

      You say; “non-Hispanic African Americans" – would these be the blue-eyed, non-red haired, 5' 10" plus folks?
      I had to think about it some but then realized that this is really cleaver – and funny. Good one Dennis, good one! People take such a worms eye view when they try to divide people into superficial cultural groups.

      March 8, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
  12. Chiming IN

    I do believe it's all because of diet. High fructose corn syrup to be precise...

    March 8, 2011 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Craig

    Duh, its the diet... Fried everything and sitting around will kill anyone. You can resist it with drugs, but you gotta eat less than 70% fat calories (and far less than 5K per day) to beat it. People killing themselves by celebrating their culture. They know better, they don't want to change. We saw that on Chef Tyler's show in the Mississippi schools. They will not eat fruit and vegetables. Only fries and fatty meat. They throw away the good stuff and go hungry until they can get some crap after school..

    March 8, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. OvernOut

    Diabetes is genetic, the Type II kind, also. Never had ANY obese people in either side of my family, but Great-Grandpa died from "too much sugar" in 1887 at age 18. He had a baby on the way that he never saw–my grandpa. Great-grandma remarried, but diabetes has been in every generation since.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Linda

      Yes, thank you for saying that Type 2 Diabetes is also genetic. No one in my family is overweight yet my grandmother, my mom and both her siblings all had diabetes. I weigh 110 lbs and inherited the disease. There is an automatic assumption that you have to be overweight and eat poorly to develop the disease. My sister is a personal fitness trainer and in excellent shape (she is also Type 2 diabetic). When she went to the pharmacy to purchase a blood glucose meter in her work our clothes with her chiseled arms, the pharmacist said, "this isn't for you, right?" So there is a lot of judgment, prejudice and misunderstanding even in the health care community.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
    • Ruth

      My mother and grandmother were diabetic and i have it along with my three siblings. None of us is obese. In our family it seems like it's not if you'll get it, it's when you'll get it.

      March 8, 2011 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • Nurse

      You are right. It isn't just related to weight or eating habits. It just so happens that MANY individuals who develop this disease are sadly overweight and do not eat properly, then in turn stereotype all others with the same diagnosis. Sadly Type II diabetes is on a rise among young children and younger generations. It would be great if they could just find a cure!

      March 8, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • George Insurance

      Thats actually quite common – you are not alone there.

      March 8, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • Nurse

      I hope more diabetics believe you: If they give up responsibility for their own conditions it means their conditions will worsen = more money in the healthcare system = more pay for me!

      March 8, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
    • Public Health Nurse

      Not all people who live in the south are fat and stupid and not all people who live elsewhere in the US are skinny and smart. What the research is saying is that there are a larger number of minority and poor people in the south. Unfortunaltely it is more expensive to eat healthy. There are some cultural factors regarding food choices to be considered but overall it comes down to education and wealth.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • jen

      again, a bag of dried beans costs VERY little. Nobody wants to get off their fat asses to cook them.

      March 8, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
    • Minnesota

      What do you think we should eat with those beans you keep mentioning? Or is it just beans? Poor people should just eat beans, you say. Do you just eat beans?

      March 9, 2011 at 00:18 | Report abuse |
    • ugg

      how nice you are to advocate the fat and poor. Im sure you would love to work for Ray's company your fat a$$ would be out all the time

      March 9, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • themexcellentone

      Glad you see fit to profit off of the illness of others. You are what is wrong with healthcare.

      March 8, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • jen

      again, exception to the rule. We need to make our own choices as to what we put in our mouths. Better ones.

      March 8, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
  15. Okx

    Yeah... All those food Chemicals... Like Sugar...

    March 8, 2011 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Difference is: Back in the day, companies used actual sugar. While not strictly healthy, pure cane sugar isn't all that bad for you.

      These days, companies use "High Fructose Corn Syrup" which is a nasty (cheap) sugar derivative. Much much worse for your body, but much cheaper to produce.

      Also, back in the day, most people had some kind of physical labor in their everyday life, to help burn off that sugar.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • Econ

      High fructose corn syrup not necessarily cheaper to produce, but there are sugar tariffs and also the corn syrup lobbyists that drive up the price of real sugar.

      March 8, 2011 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
    • me

      Corn syrup lobbyists and what they stand for disgust me. No matter what "it's not bad for you!" BS that the corn syrup PR team throws at you, I will never buy anything that contains high fructose corn syrup ever again, and I encourage other readers to do the same. Your taste buds will thank you, too, because real sugar soda tastes 1000 times better than corn syrup soda.

      March 8, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • Kyle

      Amen, Bob.

      March 8, 2011 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
  16. timd

    There is a genetic component to this. We all know those people that eat at McDonalds day in and day out and eat ice cream by the 1/2 gallon and are skinny as a rail. I'm not saying that this is the rule. I'm just saying that to pretend there isn't a genetic component is negligent.

    March 8, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. dc4sense

    What we really have is a lack of self control, maybe to deal with the stresses of our unnatural lives in this world we live in. What is it when people know what they should do but won't do it? Sounds like mental illness to me. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Probably half of us constantly seek escape – through drugs, alcohol, tv, internet, food etc. But there is no escape. We need some serious counseling.....

    March 8, 2011 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. karen RN

    To TiMD:

    Type 2 diabetes is not usually genetic, it is acquired. It can many times be reversed through diet change and significant weight loss. Type 1 diabetes is genetic, it starts in childhood , that's why it's called "juvenile diabetes." All Type 1 diabetics are insulin dependent, their entire lives, they produce no insulin. Type 2 do produce insulin, their bodies just can't effectively use the insulin they produce.
    Don't post ignorance for public viewing, tho that seems to be everywhere these days.
    The states, basically the South, has the highest incidence of illiteracy, poverty, lowest access to medical care, highest number of uninsured in the nation. And it all goes hand in had with voting republican. Go figure. Yet without what Medicaid they have access to, where would they all be ?

    March 8, 2011 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Nice post ... agreed. One important correction, though: The vast majority of diabetes patients have Type 2 diabetes (close to 95% of all cases), and medical experts agree that it is not "reversible" – once you have it, you'll have it for life. However, through diet, lifestyle, and (if needed) medications, symptoms and complications can be managed effectively. (To suggest that it can be reversed minimizes the huge impact of this disease (& it's potentially devastating consequences)).

      March 8, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Quick correction: Type 1 does not *exclusively* start in childhood–adults can be diagnosed with Type 1 as well. The term "juvenile diabetes" is outdated and misleading, and serves to further confusion on the differences between T1 and T2.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • Mr Vain

      Type 2 Diabetes has a stronger hereditary component than type 1. Basically, a child of a type 2 diabetic is more likely to become diabetic than the child of a type 1 diabetic. You might say this is because they are more likely to be overweight but this has been corrected for in studies. There is a genetic component that predisposes people to developing type 2 independent of their body habitus. Of course, being overweight and eating large amounts of processed sugars often unmasks this component. It is not all about weight as their are certainly people whom are massively overweight with normal blood glucose levels. I believe that type 1 diabetics are also more likely to have children with type 2 than type 1but this may be due to the fact that type 2 is much more prevalent. I am a physician but not an endocrinologist.

      March 8, 2011 at 14:28 | Report abuse |
    • DrG, MD

      Karen, actually you have it backwards. type I is not genetic. It is due to destruction of the pancreas, generally thought to be after a viral infection. Actually, type II diabetes has a stronger genetic correlation. This is why some people are obese and don't get diabetes while others may not. While with significant lifestyle changes can make someone have the same risk for things like heart disease and stroke as non-diabetics, we currently never say that anyone is "cured" of diabetes.

      March 8, 2011 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
  19. dubai.portland

    the leading cause of diabetes in my family anyway (aside from an unhealthy love of donuts) is the Sedentary lifestyle. I've finally had enough and did something about it. I started walking to drop a few pounds and I recently discovered kettlebell training at a local kettlebell gym here in portland. The American Council on Fitness claims it's the best total body workout out there and it really seems to be working for me. Look for a kettlebell gym in you town or get one of many DVD's on the market to try it at home – probably one of the most cost effect workouts out there as well. my gym: Skogg System just released a DVD and from what I've seen it is very close the live class experience.

    would love to hear other peoples experience with kettlebell training.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Crossfitter

      Kettlebells are awesome: When I don't have time available for a Crossfit workout kettlebells are a great, time-saving alternative. It also helps with olympic lifting.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
  20. James

    The "Diabetes Belt" area has approx. 3 times the number of non-Hispanic African Americans as the rest of the country (as article indicates), and this group (non-Hispanic Black population) has 1.5 times the rate of obesity as non-Hispanic Whites, according to the Office of Minority Health (part of Health & Human Services):
    This would account for almost the entire difference in diabetes incidence. However, I'm from the South (& am into fitness & healthy diet, etc.), & can tell you that if you spend some time in most towns / cities in the heart of the "Diabetes Belt" (i.e., Alabama, Miss., etc.) and observe the people & apparent lifestyle, then visit Boulder, CO (for example) and compare, you'll see a huge difference (no pun intended) and marked contrast. Like two different cultures, in many ways (one progressive, one not so much).

    March 8, 2011 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill, Denver, CO

      Say James, what is the minority count in "progressive" Boulder? Very many poor people?

      March 8, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
  21. abby

    I live in Texas and the folks here would fry anything - they also drink "sweet" tea by the gallons and eat sweets non-stop. My husband and I walk the malls and stores and see obese people everywhere - slurping their sodas, stuffing their mouths with fast food and junk food. No doubt in mind there is a correlation between diet, lack of exercise, and type 2 diabetes. However, there is also a genetic component. If this keeps up, America's coming generations will have shorter lifespans than their predecessors, and that's shameful.

    March 8, 2011 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Nick Naranja

    Hispanic blacks which I am sure are few and far between in that region don't eat the same kinds of food. They eat a caribbean diet. The problem in the South is that we were all pretty much selected for heavy agricultural labor. The biggest and hardest working had more children. When is the last time you saw a man hoeing and picking a cotton field, we could blow through 5000 calories in a day of hard work. Now, we eat the same way because of tradition but work in an office.

    March 8, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Butch

    Yep, you nailed it ya'll. Every belt but one. That would be the "Rust Belt". Got a job???

    March 8, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Paul NYC

    Now all the butthurt people from the South will cry that mean CNN is being mean.

    March 8, 2011 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dom625

      Hey, I've got an idea. How about you zip it and keep yourself and your opinions in New York. And while you are munching on your bland, non-fat, stomach-turning, flavorless fare, I'll be eating gumbo.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
  25. Cuttingtorch

    I live in Texas and honestly, I've always known the south was fat, lazy and stupid. Now this confirms it!

    March 8, 2011 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Rev Mkell,

    OK Let's cut funding! We can fix this problem, first cut funding to the clinics, Make Diabetes illegal and stop federal funding of treatment! Diabetes will be gone in no time!! Well that's what were doing for abortion!

    March 8, 2011 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RamessesII

    If you're going to offer us a test, the least you can do is have the link work!

    March 8, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. waterboardme

    What if, autism and type2 diabetes were both secondary to the polio vaccine given to your grandparents, parents and to you as a child? Hmmm, didn't seem to be a diabetes problem with either of my great grandparents. Maybe its a way to cull the American population too. I noticed that many third world countries don't have diabetes or autism problems. What gives?

    March 8, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Monnom

      Type 2 diabetes is primarily related to a high fat/sugar diet, which is less common in poorer countries. The reason you don't see higher autism rates in developing countries is because they aren't diagnosed. Increased awareness of the less-severe types of autism here has resulted in more people being diagnosed with milder forms of it. Sorry, but the vaccines-are-the-root-of-all-evil conspiracy theory just doesn't hold water.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • OvernOut

      People who had diabetes in the past died rapidly before they could have kids or went quickly if they had Type II. I imagine the same is still true today in countries without modern medical practices. Insulin as a treatment was not available until the 1920s. They used to have hospital wards where they would put people to die of having too much sugar in the blood.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
  29. eagle

    Hey all you Texas haters, guess where Whole Foods Market is hq'd? TEXAS...right in the middle of the big fat south. Not everyone in Texas is fat or has diabetes....MODERATION!

    March 8, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. owl

    Listen, the sad fact is that unhealthy foods are CHEAPER and more affordable to struggling families. That is where the obesity comes in so easily. Additionally, over the last 15-20 years the SUPERSIZE which promises more for less money has convinced people to eat more food not actually realizing what the caloric intake really means. Don't even start saying its only among uneducated people. TV and movies and some of the most popular people in the world are obese. Almost all of us are at least a little over weight. This is because of the big businesses wanting to make money and lots of it. Hormones added to food for cows, chickens, etc... These hormones puff up the meats to make more profits. In turn, we eat the meats and drink the milk full of hormones. What do you suppose happens besides early puberty? We get bigger too. Don't believe it? It's common sense really. So, what should we do about it?

    March 8, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teri

      Not true. How is a $7, 2.5lb bag of breaded chicken nuggets cheaper than a $7, 2.5 lb bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (especially when you have to add in the cost of the oil to fry the breaded chicken in)? How is a bag of potato chips cheaper than a bag of potatoes? Pound for pound, potatoes are much cheaper than potato chips. How is a $4 box of sugared cereal cheaper than a $2 container of oatmeal? Guarantee you the oatmeal will last far longer. It's about uneducated people who are too lazy to actually cook and are looking for quick convenience foods. Trust me. I live right here in the middle of it and see it everyday. They'd rather sit on the couch in front of the tv with their $3 bag of potato chips than get up and take the time it would take to steam a $1 bag of mixed vegetables, toss in some brown rice, and add a piece of baked chicken – all for a cheaper price than that $3 bag of chips they are going to inhale with their $1.25 2-liter Pepsi while watching Wheel of Fortune.

      March 8, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • me

      I've saved so much money by avoiding processed and pre-made foods. Fat people are just lazy and have this "I can't do it!" mentality. I can just take one big potato and make potato wedges for my whole family, or $1 of veggies and stock to make dinner for everyone. Eating cheap and healthy is not hard at ALL as soon as you stop trying to mimic the trash you see on the menu at Applebee's.

      March 8, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • Minnesota

      Comparing breaded chicken nuggets to boneless skinless chicken breasts? Bit of a faulty comparison, don't you think? And those high carb veggies you mention are a major cause of weight gain. You know nothing about diabetes if you think that starchy, high carb foods aren't a problem. And you know nothing of the cost of poverty if you think that people in poverty are trying to spend more to get less food. I can only assume that you're middle class, white butt has never tried to feed a family on the tiny fraction of your salary that poor people in this country make.

      Of course, if these folks lived in saharan africa, they'd be ultra skinny. Because they wouldn't even have access to low cost high carb high fat foods. But, I'm fairly certain that although they wouldn't have diabetes they'd probaly have some other health problems. Like starvation.

      March 9, 2011 at 00:36 | Report abuse |
  31. Walker

    Watch the movie "Fat Head" I explains the weight problem in the states and offers a fix. A must see!

    March 8, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Amka

    Type two Diabetes is a lifestyle disease. Is caused by over eatting and being fat! its all diet and excersise! Stop eatting so much and go out for a walk!!

    March 8, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Minnesota

      Thanks Doc. Actually there's a fairly strong genetic component that can be aggravated by environment (lifestyle – whether chosen or not). Do try to avoid blanket statements about subjects you know so little about. It just makes you look,...... southern.

      March 9, 2011 at 00:39 | Report abuse |
  33. Wade

    As a current resident of Louisville, KY and a former resident of Nashville, TN, I find it interesting that the areas surrounding those two cities have lower a incidence of diabetes than the outlying, rural areas. Hasn't the thought always been that "city dwellers" with office jobs and long drives to suburban homes have more dietary/weight issues?

    March 8, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • callitday79

      Interesting theory. I'm from Louisville too. Just posted right below you.

      March 8, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse |
    • Teri

      It is probably because those areas have better access to heath care and have a higher standard of living (ie – can afford better foods and can afford to go to the doctor) than those in remote rural areas. But, I agree, you'd think that those who live in rural areas and have the ability to have gardens would eat healthier. Apparently they just have a longer drive to pick up their fried chicken. (BTW – I work in Nashville and live about 30 miles out of the city. Hope to put in a small garden this year. Keep your fingers crossed that the deer don't get it.)

      March 8, 2011 at 14:15 | Report abuse |
  34. Southern boy

    The pursuit of happiness. I will eat what I want and smoke as much as I want if that is what gives me joy. Living up to others expectations is not very high on my list.

    March 8, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. K;aren

    I would imagine that a large number of people in this belt are genetically predisposed. The African American population was settled largely in the south and didn't move far from their roots in the states. A predisposition combined with some of the eating styles of the south would be a problem but lets not jump to conclusions that everyone in the states named is asking for this disease. There is a known genetic component and that is, I'm sure, the largest factor here.

    March 8, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. callitday79

    Hail from the Diabetic State of Kentucky!!!!!

    My husband was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 24. It is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the beta cells of the pancrease. There is a laboratory test that an endocrinologist can perform (C-Peptide) that measures the output of insulin from the pancrease. His is null. Childhood diet, lifestyle nor where we live caused this terrible disease. Since we live in KY, you all would not believe how frustrating it is explaining that he is not a TYPE 2 because we have a higher percentage of the disease.
    Either way you cut it, either TYPE of diabetes is a devastating chronic disease that slowly tears the body down and affects every organ. Praying for a cure every day.

    March 8, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Catholic MOM and Wife

    I moved from MD to NC – and I have to tell ya, I've never seen so many people eat so much fried stuff in my life. I have no idea if that's a south thing, a way of life thing, a "I can't really cook and it will all taste the same" thing, or what. But the area that I moved to – they love their Fried food – doesn't matter WHAT it is.

    March 8, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Robert the Robot

    Who cares? They'll all be dead in 10-20 years. Why worry about Chris Christie running for President? That fat bag of snacks will explode before the campaign is over! HA! All you bloated American pigs....die.......

    March 8, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sue

    This says the diabetes belt not the obesity belt, they are not mutually exclusive. Obesity is a big factor in development of type ll diabetes but its not always a given. Some individuals and populations are more sensitive to the effects of insulin abnormalities and therefore quicker to develop adult (or type II) diabetes .

    However, if we go with obesity as a leading factor in type II DM and bad choices leading to obesity, then take a look at the cost of food. A large part of food purchasing decisions are made due to cost. Part of the problem is the cost of protein verses the cost of starch and foods high in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Which do you think is cheaper? If there was a nice potential diabetes tax on fast foods and those foods with high concentration of HFCS then maybe Medicare could offer better programs on prevention and disease management programs.

    March 8, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Zingy

    This site is full of damn yankees!

    March 8, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. juliepoolie

    I find it interesting that there are so many stereotypes out there made by uneducated people. I am a health educator, and have been in the field (and studied it extensively) for 14 years. Type 1 Diabetes usually has a juvenile onset, and they are considered to be insulin dependant. Type 2 Diabetes usually has an adult onset, and they are NOT insulin dependant. However, due to increasing obesity rates and inactivity, there are more and more Type 2 DM cases diagnosed each year in "younger" people.

    I heard it explained at a conference once, "Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger." I think that's a good way to explain it. It's not that you are definitely going to develop diseases and conditions just because everyone in your family did. Some things are passed down genetically, and others are casued in a family because all of the members of that family live in the same part of the country and therefore share similar eating habits and lifestyle patterns.

    On another note, before you shoot of self righteous, anonymous messages into cyberspace do yourselves a favor and take a self inventory first. These are human beings you are bashing. Get over yourself.

    March 8, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sue

      That is the best way to put it about genitics and lifestyle. I am a nurse who worked with end stage renal disease (ESRD), in dialysis, hemo and peritoneal. All I can say is WOW! A 10% yearly increase in dialysis patients, mostly due to lifestyle choices pulling the trigger. The majority were diabetics and hypertensive patients. Obesity has an overwhelming impact on both of those.

      March 8, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • jen

      Humans have brains. when you get to a point where your weight is causing you health problems, your human brain should say "hmmm. Maybe I should NOT have that burger, fries and a shake. I gained 70 lbs when I was pregnant, and it was horrendous carrying that around. I can't belive people choose to do that. People are separated from the factory-made animals we eat by the simple fact that we can rationally think about things. Too bad it seems most of these people are either in denial, or just ignorant. As an educator, you should do all you can to eliminate the latter.

      March 8, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse |
  42. BioHzrd420

    Am I the only one who was disappointed they didn't show a graphic of the "diabetes belt?" So where's it at?

    March 8, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teri

      Agreed – I was looking for it, too, although I probably have an idea of exactly what it looks like and could draw it out.

      March 8, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
  43. Teri

    I was born and raised in Alabama, and I can honestly say there is NO excuse for this. Being poor doesn't mean you have to eat unhealthy foods. My food bill is well below what most who are on food stamps actually receive each month for the food allowance. I was shocked at the amounts they receive. Utterly shocked. Just yesterday I was in line at the grocery store behind someone who was paying with food stamps. They had all junk food and mostly name brand. No vegetables, not even frozen or canned ones. No fruits. No whole grains. Aside from the WIC eggs, milk, and OJ, all of the rest was junk food. General Mills sugary junk cereals, Kellogg's pop tarts, Fruit Roll ups, 2 jumbo bags of potato chips, sodas (not diet, but at least they were store brand as if that really helps matters any), frozen pizzas, a gallon of cooking oil, breaded chicken nuggets and french fries (sorry, I don't consider potatoes to be vegetables) and onion rings, cans of Chef BoyRDee ravioli, and a whole box of ramen noodles (got to stretch their dollars, I guess).

    Just because one can't afford to shop at Whole Foods or buy organic doesn't mean they are stuck with junk processed foods. There are options. The main problem in this area is not income or not having enough money to buy quality foods or not having quality foods available. The problem is nutritional education. I've always followed the thought that a plate should be colorful – a little bit of green, red, and yellow – at each meal (and red needs to be something other than ketchup and french fries don't count as yellow). I've taught my children to eat that way. None of us have any weight issues. Shop the outer aisles at your grocery store and stay away from the processed junk foods in the middle. Just don't even wheel the cart down those aisles and you won't be tempted.

    March 8, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Minnesota

      I'm sorry, but you really don't know what you're talking about. Are you buying for one or for a family? In any case, there are a number of studies and quite a few books that show the health cost of cheap food. I'm glad you can afford to eat well, but I have to believe you've never been truly poor. You see people buying food at the grocery store and their carts are loaded with high carb, sugary foods. And your cart has nice, healthy greens and lean meats. But you're assuming that they're buying a week's worth of groceries just like you are. Chances are that they're buying for the month because that's how the assistance comes. To make the food last a month they have to buy food that keeps a stomach full. That's cheap, high carb, and usually sugary. Even the cheap vegetables are high carb – potatoes, yams, carrots, peas, corn. And, as every diabetic knows, it's the carbs that do you in.

      March 9, 2011 at 00:27 | Report abuse |
  44. Fiona

    "The entire state of Mississippi...". I'm laughing.

    March 8, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Homer Simpson

    MMMMMM, D O N U T S, in every color of the rainbow....

    March 8, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. yomammasofat

    Yo mamma so fat ... when she dances ... the band skips!

    March 8, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. yomammasofat

    yo mama so fat ... when she sits around the house .... she really sits around the house!

    March 8, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Dave seattle

    "And all of Mississippi" !!!! Ha that is so sad it's funny!

    March 8, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Marilyn

    Look at actress Mary Tyler Moore, she has always been thin as a rail and has had diabetes most of her life. Sometimes it just happens.

    March 8, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Elizabeth

    Gee I wonder if this has any correlation that the diabetes belt is the same area as the bible belt. Not to slam religion but it's well known that these folks are uneducated and rely on the "good book" for most of their schooling.

    March 8, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

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.