US tops 100,000 diabetes deaths for second consecutive year in 2021

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More than 100,000 Americans died from diabetes in 2021, the second straight year the country reached the grim milestone.

The data was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week, and makes the condition the seventh leading cause of death for Americans.

In 2019, around 87,000 Americans died from the condition, showing a sharp increase during the two pandemic years. The CDC reports that data does not included diabetes patients whose deaths were ascribed to Covid.

As diabetes deaths increase in the U.S., the National Clinical Care Commission, a work group created by the U.S. Congress, is asking for the federal government to dedicate more resources towards treating and preventing the condition.

With around one-in-ten American adults suffering from diabetes, and one-third from prediabetes, diabetes treatment and prevention has emerged as a challenge for health officials.

The CDC reports that the United States recorded over 100,000 diabetes deaths in 2021, the second straight year that figure was eclipsed (file photo)

The CDC reports that the United States recorded over 100,000 diabetes deaths in 2021, the second straight year that figure was eclipsed (file photo)

‘The large number of diabetes deaths for a second year in a row is certainly a cause for alarm,’ said Dr Paul Hsu, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. 

‘Type 2 diabetes itself is relatively preventable, so it’s even more tragic that so many deaths are occurring.’ 

In a new report, the commission said that the U.S. must adopt a more comprehensive approach to prevent more people from developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form, and to help people who are already diagnosed avoid life-threatening complications. 

About 37 million Americans, or 11 percent of the population, have diabetes, and one in three Americans will develop the chronic disease in their lifetime if current trends persist, according to the commission. 

The CDC also reports that around one-third of U.S. adults, or 96 million Americans, also have prediabetes – a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than recommended but not nearly at diabetic levels yet.

A report released earlier this month calls for far broader policy changes to stem the diabetes epidemic, such as promoting consumption of healthier foods, ensuring paid maternal leave from the workplace, levying taxes on sugary drinks and expanding access to affordable housing, among other areas.

‘Diabetes in the U.S. cannot simply be viewed as a medical or health care problem, but also must be addressed as a societal problem that cuts across many sectors, including food, housing, commerce, transportation and the environment,’ the commission wrote 

The federal panel recommended Congress create an Office of National Diabetes Policy that would coordinate efforts across the government and oversee changes outside health policy. 

It would be separate from the Department of Health and Human Services and could be similar to the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, according to Dr William Herman, commission chairman and a professor of internal medicine and epidemiology at the University of Michigan.

‘We aren´t going to cure the problem of diabetes in the United States with medical interventions,’ Herman told Reuters. 

‘The idea is to pull something together across federal agencies, so they are systematically talking to one another.’

A congressional workgroup recommends that the federal government create the Office of National Diabetes Policy which will work specifically to solve this budding diabetes crisis (file photo)

A congressional workgroup recommends that the federal government create the Office of National Diabetes Policy which will work specifically to solve this budding diabetes crisis (file photo)

U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington who chairs the Senate health committee, helped create the commission in 2017 and said she is studying the recommendations closely.

‘People with diabetes and other chronic illnesses were already facing challenges well before the pandemic hit, and Covid has only made these problems worse,’ Murray said in a statement to Reuters. 

‘It is absolutely crucial to research and find solutions to better support diabetes patients and get them the care they need.’

The pandemic has proven especially deadly for people with diabetes. People with poorly controlled diabetes have at least a two-fold greater risk of death from COVID-19, according to a report.    

The most common risk factor for diabetes is obesity, another condition that is becoming a massive problem in the U.S.

Data from the CDC shows that 42 percent of U.S. adults suffer from the condition where a person is so overweight they are at a serious health risk. The condition is especially a problem across the U.S. south. 

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