The Southeast Officially Dubbed the "Diabetes Belt"

This region has the most blood-sugar cases and the highest risk factors in the U.S.

Posted: 04/07/2011 05:15 PM EDT
Filed Under diabetes

Diabetes Belt

A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that the Southeast is the "diabetes belt" of the U.S.

By analyzing data from 644 counties, the CDC found that in the southeast—also called the "stroke belt" and the "heart-failure belt"—nearly 12 percent of people living in the region suffer from diabetes, as compared with 8.5 percent in the rest of the U.S. Fifteen states in this region had especially high rates of diabetes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Mississippi.

"We have known for a long time that diabetes was more common in the Southeast than it was in the rest of the nation, but in many ways that's not an adequate definition," said the CDC report's lead researcher Lawrence Barker.

So why this particular region?

Researchers found that people living in this area of the country are more likely to be overweight/obese and lead a sedentary lifestyle than other parts of the U.S.—all which are major risk factors for developing diabetes. They also mention how race, age and education play a factor in their findings. In a press release, they stated, "People in the diabetes belt are more likely to be African American, and African Americans are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. People living in the diabetes belt also are less likely to have a college degree. Lower education levels are associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes."

Diabetes is a condition in which someone has abnormal blood-sugar production. This can result in heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputations, nerve damage and even death.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes. And this disease is extremely prevalent in the Black community. Fifteen percent of all African Americans who are 20 and older have diabetes; 25 percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes; and 25 percent of African-American women over 55 have diabetes.

But the good news is that you don't have to develop diabetes. Read tips about what you can do to prevent it here.

(Picture: Chris Radburn/Landov)