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CDC: Diabetes Cases Spike to 29 Million in the U.S.

Update Date: Jun 11, 2014 11:10 AM EDT

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that can increase the risk of other diseases if left unmonitored. The disease occurs when the body's blood sugar levels are elevated and cannot be controlled. In a new government study, researchers reported that the number of diabetic patients living in the United States has spiked to 29 million.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report calculated that from 2010 to 2012, the number of diabetes cases increased from 26 million to 29 million, which is a nine percent jump. Nearly 25 percent of people who have diabetes are unaware of their medical condition. The researchers added that roughly 86 million adults, which is more than one-third of the population, have pre-diabetes, which is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

"These new numbers are alarming, and underscore the need for an increased focus on reducing the burden of diabetes in our country," Ann Albright, director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, said reported by HealthDay. "Diabetes is costly in both human and economic terms. It's urgent that we take swift action to effectively treat and prevent this serious disease."

The researchers stressed the importance of taking preventive measures. Around 15 to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes will go on to develop diabetes within five years. At-risk individuals must make lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity levels and changing diet. The team added that by preventing the disease, the amount of medical costs and lost wages and work tied to diabetes would ideally fall. In 2012, diabetes costs $245 billion.

"If we want to reduce the overall burden of diabetes in our nation, we have to focus on preventing diabetes in the first place," said Edward Gregg, chief of the CDC's Epidemiology and Statistics Branch, Division of Diabetes Translation according to Reuters.

The report added that diabetes is hitting the younger population more so than before. In 2012, there were 208,000 individuals younger than 20 who were diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The number of cases in people aged 20 and older totaled 1.7 million. Minority groups, which include Blacks, Hispanics and American Indian/ Alaska Natives, had doubled the risk of getting diabetes in comparison to white adults.

"The increasing number of people with diabetes in the United States and worldwide is not surprising to the caregivers at the front lines of the epidemic," said Dr. Ronald Tamler, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "While a third of the country is at risk for developing diabetes, it can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Patients with diabetes can live full, active lives, but need to seek out comprehensive medical care to avoid the complications of their condition."

The report can be found here.

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