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Only 50 percent of Americans over 45 get Screen for Diabetes

Update Date: Sep 26, 2014 04:13 PM EDT

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition that can be highly manageable. However, in order to treat this disease, people must be diagnosed first. According to a recent cross-sectional study, researchers found that only half of the Americans over the age of 45 get screened for diabetes.

For this study, the lead author, Sarah Stark Casagrande, Ph.D., epidemiologist at Social & Scientific Systems, Inc. and colleagues examined data collected from the 2005 to 2010 National Health and Nutritional Examination (NHANES) as well as the 2006 National Health Interview Survey. The first dataset included 21,519 adults and the latter one gathered information on the rate of diabetes screening over the past three years. To screen for diabetes, doctors only have to take a blood test.

From the NHANES sample set, 66.4 percent of the participants were overweight. However, only 47.7 percent of the participants in general were screened for diabetes. For adults over the age of 45 specifically, which made up about 48.6 percent of the sample, only 53.2 percent of them got diabetes screening.

"Even though just over half (53.2 percent) of the people over 45 were screened for diabetes in the last three years, that falls far short of the American Diabetes Association recommendations that all adults over 45, even if without symptoms of diabetes, be screened," Casagrande said according to Medical Xpress. "However, we found that for minorities; such as Hispanics, known to be at greater risk and for those with lower family income, less education and no health insurance, diabetes screening was less prevalent."

In addition to Hispanics, the diabetes screening rates were also lower in men. The researchers stressed the importance of getting screened for the disease, especially if you are older. Leaving diabetes untreated can cause serous health problems. In order to improve these rates, there has to be an increase in awareness. People must be better educated about the benefits of getting annual screenings. Casagrande added that programs that take the screening test to the people could be effective as well. For example, programs can offer screening tests at workplaces or churches.

"Fear keeps some people from being screened. They're afraid of what they may learn. Others only seek medical care when they are sick, and at that time they may not be screened for diabetes because the illness that brought them to a clinic is the priority at hand. Still others stay away from health care and screenings altogether because they don't have health insurance, although that may be changing as more people gain coverage," Marjorie Cypress, Ph.D., president of health care and education of the American Diabetes Association, commented.

The study, "Self-Reported Prevalence of Diabetes Screening in the U.S., 2005-2010," was published in the American Journal of Prevention Medicine.

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