California Dreaming: Who Knew That Included Dreams Of Diabetes
There are a lot of stock images that spring to mind when you think of California: surfing, beautiful blonde people, earthquakes. Hollywood, the Golden Gate bridge, perhaps.
But one thing that doesn’t fit the usual clichéd rundown of all things California is diabetes. That, however, may be about to change.
An alarming new study conducted at UCLA shows that nearly half of all Californians either have prediabetes, a precursor to type-2 diabetes, or they have an undiagnosed case of diabetes itself. The research analyzed and dissected California prediabetes rates by county, age and ethnicity, and observers are already saying that it could well be a precursor of another kind, a disturbing glimpse into the future of the diabetes epidemic looming across the US.
The study looked at data from over 40,000 respondents, and examining their hemoglobin A1c levels and fasting glucose findings.
By their estimates, some 13 million people in California, constituting 46 percent of the population, have prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes. Another 2.5 million adults have already been diagnosed with diabetes. Together the two groups comprise 15.5 million people, or 55 percent of the population of the state. Especially troubling to researchers was the fact that 33 percent of young adults between 18 and 39 years old have prediabetes, given that Type 2 diabetes is a condition that usually afflicts older people.
“This is the clearest indication to date that the diabetes epidemic is out of control and getting worse,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Health Advocacy, the agency that commissioned the study. “With limited availability of healthy food in low-income communities, a preponderance of soda and junk food marketing, and urban neighborhoods lacking safe places to play, we have created a world where diabetes is the natural consequence.”
Indeed, racial and ethnic disparities were starkly on display in the study data. Whereas white young adults had a prediabetes rate of 29 percent, that figure jumped to 43 percent for Pacific Islanders, 38 percent for African Americans, 38 percent for American Indians, and 36 percent for Latinos.
The study’s co-author and co-director of the chronic disease program at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, Dr. Susan Babey said that rising rates of obesity and the number of prediabetic Californians go “hand in hand” both in California and nationwide. The sugar-laden Western diet, less physical activity, and more time spent planted in front of a screen is a combination that is making American kids sick.
Let’s hope this latest study can be our wakeup call.