CDC reports longest-ever decline in new diabetes cases

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New diabetes diagnoses in the U.S. are trending down for the first time in two decades, the CDC has reported, declining 35% since a peak in 2009.

According to the latest numbers from the agency, published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, new cases of diabetes in the U.S. declined from 1.7 million in 2008 to 1.3 million in 2017, with the number of people living with diagnosed diabetes remaining flat for the past eight years. It’s good news, considering the fact that diabetes prevalence doubled in the U.S. in the 1990s and 2000s.

First author Stephen R. Benoit and his colleagues found the number of people living with diagnosed diabetes increased by 4.4% per year from 1990 through 2009, reaching a peak of 8.2 cases per 100 adults. After that it saw a sharp fall, plateauing to 8 per 100 adults through 2017. In 2019, Benoit and co-authors said the incidence of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is around the same as it was in 2000.

Though the current plateau is encouraging—and suggests federal and state efforts to curb unhealthy habits and promote metabolic health have been somewhat successful—the researchers have been unable to pinpoint the underlying cause of stagnancy. Benoit et al. said it could be driven in part by increased awareness of type 2 diabetes prevention, shifts in diagnostic and screening practices and a public emphasis on diet and physical activity. Diabetics are also starting to live longer, they said, but it’s important to take all these factors with a grain of salt.

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