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'Diabetes belt' cinches the South: highest rates in areas with greatest obesity and stroke risk.

Two swaths spanning the Deep South and Appalachia have emerged as the U.S. Diabetes Belt.

County-by-county mapping shows that the belt also touches parts of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in the April American Journal of Preventive Medicine. High-diabetes pockets also crop up in Oklahoma, Michigan, Arizona, the Dakotas and elsewhere. The data do not distinguish between types of diabetes, but nationally more than 90 percent of diabetes cases are type 2, or adult-onset diabetes.

The new map overlaps considerably with the "stroke belt"; the conditions have similar risk factors. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and the proportion of the population that is African-American are all higher than average in the Diabetes Belt, says study coauthor Lawrence Barker of the CDC. The area also has below-average education levels.

"It's really important from a public health perspective for counties and regions to recognize the health problems for which they are at particular risk," says endocrinologist Judith Fradkin of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Bethesda, Md. Mapping the belt will help public health officials target communities for programs to curb the disease.

Diabetes Belt

Dark red portions of this county-by-county map show that high rates of diabetes are common in the South and in Appalachia. Researchers hope that a defined diabetes belt will help public health officials target areas for intervention.

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Title Annotation:Body & Brain
Author:Seppa, Nathan
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 9, 2011
Words:241
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