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Changes in body mass, age, race/ethnicity associated with rising diabetes prevalence in U.S.

Factors account for increase in women, but only half of increase in men

Though diabetes prevalence among both men and women rose between 1976 and 2010, NIH researchers and collaborators have found that the reasons for those increases may have been somewhat different in each gender. The scientists found that the aging of the U.S. population, changes in the country’s makeup of race and ethnicity and changes in body mass index (BMI) explained the increase in women’s diabetes prevalence, but did not sufficiently account for all of the increase in men’s diabetes prevalence. The results were published online Sept. 2, 2014, in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers—from the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Social & Scientific Systems, and Westat—looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) between 1976 and 2010 and taken from nearly 24,000 participants aged 20 to 74 years old. Between those years, they found that diabetes prevalence in men rose from about 5 to 11 percent and in women rose from about 6 to 9 percent. BMI appeared to be the greatest contributor to the change.

The substantial contribution of BMI to the increased prevalence in both sexes supports ongoing public health efforts to reduce obesity, the researchers conclude. They speculate that improved survival over time in men with diabetes compared to women with diabetes may have influenced diabetes prevalence in men, as well as changes in physical activity, decreased sleep and other factors. They suggest more study into what other factors contribute to men’s increased diabetes prevalence.


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