Study: U.S. diabetes cases leap

The rate of new diabetes cases nearly doubled in the U.S. in the past 10 years, with the highest levels in the South, the government said Thursday in its first state-by-state review of new diagnoses.

The highest rate was in West Virginia, where about 13 in 1,000 adults were diagnosed with the disease. The lowest was in Minnesota, where the rate is 5 in 1,000.

About 90 percent of the cases are type 2 diabetes, the form linked to obesity. The findings echo geographic trends seen with obesity and physical inactivity, which are also tied to heart disease. Southern states rank worst in those measures, too.

“It isn't surprising the problem is heaviest in the South – no pun intended,” said Matt Petersen, who oversees data and statistics for the American Diabetes Association.

The study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covered most states.

Some studies have offered state-specific estimates of diabetes cases, but this is the first to chart where new cases are being diagnosed.

“It's important work,” said Angela Liese, a diabetes researcher at the University of South Carolina, who was not involved in the CDC study.

The report only asked about diagnosed diabetes. Because an estimated 1 in 4 diabetics have not been diagnosed, the findings probably underestimate the problem, Liese said.

The study involved a random-digit-dialed survey of more than 260,000 adults. Participants were asked if they'd ever been told by a doctor that they have diabetes, and when the diagnosis was made.

The annual rate of new diabetes cases rose from about 5 per 1,000 in the mid-1990s to 9 per 1,000 in the mid-2000s, according to data gathered for 33 states for which CDC had complete data for both time periods.

The researchers had data for 40 states for the years 2005-07. West Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee had the highest rates, all at 11 per 1,000 or higher.