The prevalence of diabetes in the United States has nearly doubled in the past two decades, according to a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study authors found that this rise in diabetes from 5.5% to 9.3% of the U.S. population over the last 20 years paralleled the growing rate of obesity in America.
Better screening tools such as a hemoglobin A1c diagnostic test have also helped physicians identify more diabetes cases, the researchers say.
In 1988, about 16% of individuals who met the criteria for diabetes were not diagnosed by a physician. That number fell to 11% in 2010. Because the total number of diabetics in the United States has increased to nearly 21 million, the study authors say the number of estimated undiagnosed cases – around 2.3. million – has remained the same over the last two decades.
“My hope, and obviously everybody’s hope, is that 11% will go down further as there’s improved access to healthcare for all Americans,” said Dr. Martin Abrahamson, who was not involved in the study.
Experts predict that the number of Americans with diabetes will reach 44 million by 2034 if things don’t change.
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