New data seems to confirm that both diabetes and high cholesterol have seen a marked decline in America in recent years. With these serious health issues seeing a significant drop in the number of cases, are people in the United States finally living healthier lives?
According to NBC News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited some 1.7 million instances of diabetes in 2009. However, in 2014, those numbers of new diabetes diagnoses decreased to 1.4 million.
“We are looking at some progress we have been making in America,” Dr. Gerald Fletcher, a leading figure with the American Heart Association and a member of Mayo Clinic, explained.
While Fletcher seemed a little reserved in his comments regarding the results of the study, others were more optimistic. According to WebMD, this includes Edward Gregg, a researcher for the CDC who first announced the results of the study.
Although the results of the recent studies are promising, it still is not known why the number of new diabetes cases are dropping. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, efforts by organizations to get people to become more active and consume less sugar is one possible reason.
“We’ve had more and more people who come in and say, ‘I’m not diabetic, but I want to prevent it’ or ‘I’m not diabetic, but I want to get my blood sugar checked,” shared Jane Campbell, the director of the Center for Health Promotion. “People are starting to realize that even if they don’t necessarily have the risk factors, they could still have diabetes. I think maybe awareness is finally starting to filter its way into the population as a whole.”
However, the decrease in number of cases of diabetes refers only to new cases, not the total number of Americans that have the disease. In fact, that number is still on the rise, with some 22 million citizens being diagnosed with the disease in 2014. This is an increase from the 20.7 million that were reported back in 2011, and the shockingly low 10 million in back in the late 90s.
Meanwhile, in addition to the results on diabetes, another study showed how high cholesterol levels of Americans are also seeing a decrease. In fact, epidemiologist Margaret Carroll, with the CDC, led a study that found a decrease of 12 percent of Americans who suffered from high cholesterol.
“The prevalence of high total cholesterol has declined,” Carroll stated. “It’s a good sign.”
Part of the reason for the drop in dangerous cholesterol levels is due to the use of drugs like Lipitor, Crestor, Menacer, and Zocor. That being said, Carroll cautioned that drugs aren’t the only reason for drop in cholesterol.
“We found a decline in mean (average) cholesterol even among people not on cholesterol-lowering medications,” Carroll explained.
Considering the positive results of both studies, it would appear as though Americans are taking a more serious approach to their health. Even still, as Dr. David Nathan affirmed, a lot of work needs to be done.
“It’s not yet time to have a parade,” Nathan stated. “[But] it has finally entered into the consciousness of our population that the sedentary lifestyle is a real problem, that increased body weight is a real problem.”
[Photo by Christian K. Lee/AP Images]