Shocker: 'Diabetes belt' cinches the South

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Photo courtesy of Science News.
  • Photo courtesy of Science News.

No surprises here: Southerners are fat and our health is suffering because of it.

A swath of the Deep South and Appalachia has emerged as the U.S. “diabetes belt,” researchers find. County-by-county mapping shows that the highest rates of diabetes cut two paths — one strung through Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, and another running eastward from Louisiana through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.

The belt also touches parts of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report online March 7 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. High-diabetes pockets crop up in Oklahoma, Michigan, Arizona, the Dakotas and elsewhere. The data do not distinguish between types of diabetes, but nationally more than 90 percent of diabetes cases are type 2, also called adult-onset diabetes.

Study coauthor Lawrence Barker, a mathematical statistician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, says people living in the diabetes belt have many characteristics in common, including higher-than-average likelihood of being obese, African-American and leading a sedentary lifestyle. The areas also had below-average education levels with 24 percent of people holding a college degree, compared with 34 percent in the rest of the country.

Read the rest of this Science Now article, by Nathan Seppa, here.

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