Study: Diabetes cases have more than doubled since 2003

DES MOINES — Iowa’s obesity rate is soaring and a new federal report says the number of American adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the past 20 years. Diabetes is a potentially life-altering condition that affects nearly 40-million people nationwide.

Dr. Donna O’Shea at UnitedHealthcare is concerned the growing prevalence of diabetes could affect human longevity. “Many people attribute that to the weight changes that we are seeing,” O’Shea says. “Obesity, starting in childhood and then, of course, getting worse as you become an adult and very high in the adult population. That obesity can affect all different disease states, but significantly diabetes.”

A state study in 2017 found nearly 232,000 adult Iowans with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when your body cannot use the insulin it produces, resulting from poor nutrition. It accounts for nearly 95% of all cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study also found an increase in the number of people under age 20 developing diabetes, which O’Shea says is a disturbing trend.   “We know, first of all, that the risk of childhood obesity is increasing. It’s now up to one in five young people,” she says. “The number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled in the last 2 decades, so, this is really becoming a significant health problem.”

According to a report released this fall by Trust for America’s Health, Iowa is among 22 states with an adult obesity rate at or above 35%, with Iowa reaching 37%. O’Shea says the steady rise in diabetes cases is why it’s important to stay active and eat a nutritious diet.  “Even when you have diabetes, you need to control those blood sugar surges. For example, you want to be eating healthy proteins such as chicken, fish, or turkey, as well as non-starchy, fibrous vegetables like broccoli, green beans or carrots, and a moderate amount of carbohydrates.”

Carbs in the food you eat raises those blood sugar levels. The CDC recommends you keep track of how many carbs you eat and set a limit for each meal, as it can help keep your blood sugar levels in your target range.

The Mayo Clinic says a person who eats 2000 calories a day should be eating about 225 grams of carbs a day.