Chicago (June 20, 2013) – The epidemic growth of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. over the past decade has clearly been shown to be associated with social, environmental and economic factors, as outlined in a Scientific Statement released today by the American Diabetes Association at its 73rd Scientific Sessions. The release of the statement coincides with a call for research applications to target these socioecological factors in a rigorous scientific manner, so that programs may be developed that would strive to prevent diabetes through community-based interventions.
The statement notes that “current prevalence rates are staggering” for both obesity and type 2 diabetes, “and are expected to continue to climb over the ensuing decades.” One-third of adults and up to 18 percent of youth are obese, while one in three Americans are expected to develop type 2 diabetes by the year 2050 if current trends continue. Currently, 8.3 percent of the U.S. population lives with diabetes and an additional 35 percent have prediabetes, putting them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Reversing these trends cannot be accomplished without addressing the socioecological factors that play a major role in development of the disease, the authors note. Contributing factors include unhealthy behaviors, economic and social conditions, health policy and social norms, environmental influences and inadequate healthcare. For example, increased portion sizes and a food supply high in sugar, fat and energy density contribute to excess calorie intake, while increased sedentary behavior and decreased physical activity among youth collectively lead to excessive weight gain. These and other factors must all be addressed to effectively combat the growing obesity and related diabetes epidemics.
“We believe that emphasizing a rigorous scientific approach to examining potential community and environmental interventions to prevent diabetes will provide the best road map for public health messages and policies to stem the epidemic of type 2 diabetes,” said Robert E. Ratner, MD, FACP, FACE, Chief Scientific & Medical Officer, American Diabetes Association. “We know that type 2 diabetes can be prevented in many cases. It’s time we put this knowledge to use in a systematic, scientific way to halt this disturbing epidemic and reduce the burden of disease in this country.”