Diabetes Belt In America’s South

By: Mary Smith - Staff Writer
Published: Mar 9, 2021

“Diabetes Belt” Of The South. Diabetes is spreading among 15 Southern belt states where people are obese. The Southern part of America has the highest rates and many of the characteristics remain common.

Study coauthor Lawrence Barker, a mathematical statistician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, says people living in the diabetes belt have many characteristics in common, including higher-than-average likelihood of being obese, African-American and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

The areas also had below-average education levels with 24 percent of people holding a college degree, compared with 34 percent in the rest of the country.

“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 Barker.

Nearly 26 million people in the U. S. have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The diabetes belt includes 644 counties in portions of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Data from the diabetes belt showed prevalence rates greater than 11.0 percent.

By comparing demographics and risk factors such as gender, age, education, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and race, they found four factors that distinguished the diabetes belt from the rest of the country. The factors include a more diverse population, higher prevalence of obesity, a more sedentary lifestyle and lesser proportion of people with a college degree.

The diabetes belt overlaps with the stroke belt and the recently defined heart failure belt. Diabetes has been linked to higher rates of stroke and heart attack.

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