Diabetes is huge problem both for its direct affects as well as its ability to weaken the body’s defenses against other disease.
Diabetes can be genetic (Type 1) but the bulk of the problem is self-inflicted (Type 2) — a function of diet, obesity and lack of exercise. That’s reflected in the areas of the country in which it is most and least prevalent.
One issue with diabetes numbers is that an estimated 50% of those with diabetes don’t know it. Testing requires testing blood glucose levels after fasting, and a lot of people simply don’t see their doctors regularly, if they have a doctor at all.
Overall, the known incidence of diabetes in the US ranges from 6.8% in Colorado to 16.5% in Puerto Rico.
The worst areas in the US are mostly in the Old South
- Puerto Rico, 16.5%
- Mississippi, 14.7%
- West Virginia, 14.5%
- Alabama, 13.7%
- Kentucky, 13.5%
- Louisiana, 12.7%
- Tennessee, 12.7%
The rates in some of these Southern states may be much higher than what’s documented, due to relatively poor provision and use of healthcare services in places like Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky.
The areas with the lowest rate of diabetes are
- Colorado, 6.8%
- Utah, 7.0%
- Alaska, 7.6%
- Minnesota, 7.6%
- Montana, 7.9%
- New Hampshire, 8.1%
- Vermont 8.2%
These are areas in which people spend a lot of time outdoors and active.
As with smoking, poverty is linked to diabetes. Relatively affluent states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have rates that are below 10% despite the predominance of office-based work.