The Best (And Worst) States for Diabetes

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The United States is experiencing a diabetes epidemic. Since 2008, the number of Americans with diabetes has risen by 2.2 million people, and the rate has increased rapidly with growing obesity.

Yet some states appear to be faring better than others. On Wednesday, Gallup and Healthways released a new report ranking states and communities on incidence of diabetes for 2015. The new report shows Utah, Rhode Island and Colorado have the lowest incidence of diabetes in the United States. In each of those states, less than 8% of the population has diabetes.

That’s significantly different than the rates reported in other states. For instance, Alabama and West Virginia have the highest number of people with diabetes in their state, with over 16% of the population with a diabetes diagnosis.

The researchers cite the obesity epidemic as one of the greatest contributing factors to the high rates of diabetes in the U.S. More than a third of American adults are obese. “While not all people with diabetes are obese, and not all who are obese develop diabetes, research shows that about 54% of middle aged Americans who are obese and have not yet developed diabetes will do so in their lifetime,” the report authors write.

The study authors also looked at specific communities within states for a deeper picture on what regions of the nation are doing well, and which communities need some work. They found that Boulder, Colo., Bellingham, Wash., Fort Collins, Colo., and Provo-Orem, Utah report the lowest incidence rates out of cities nationwide. Boulder is especially low with less than 5% of people in the city diagnosed with the disease. On the other hand, Mobile, Ala., and Charleston, W.Va., reported over 17% of the people in the cities have diabetes.

To come up with the incidence rates, researchers conducted 176,885 telephone interviews with adults across all 50 states in 2015. For community data, researchers interviewed 246,620 people.

To cut back on the number of people with diabetes, the researchers of the new study recommend communities focus on diabetes education, offering quality health care, monitoring health outcomes, and engaging with people and technology as a comprehensive way to achieve fewer diagnoses.

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