This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on June 25, 2014.
It’s easy to tell if your waistline is growing, but many Americans are missing signs of a more serious consequence of obesity: Type 2 diabetes.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals almost 1 in 10 Americans has the disease, but a quarter of them don’t know it.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t produce enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it produces to process glucose. It’s associated with being overweight and can be prevented or controlled with a healthy diet and exercise. But the symptoms can be subtle – feeling excessively tired, hungry and thirsty, urinating frequently, and possibly having blurred vision or tingling hands or feet.
The number of Americans with Type 2 diabetes jumped by 3 million from 2010 to 2012, and it’s expected to grow. More than 1 in 3 American adults currently have prediabetes, meaning their blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. And minorities are disproportionately affected. Black, Latinos and American Indian adults are about twice as likely to have the disease as white adults.
Here’s a dive into the diabetes numbers:
The number of Americans who have diabetes, which is 9.3 percent of the U.S. population. This is up from 26 million in 2010, according to the CDC report.
The number of American adults with prediabetes. Without weight loss and exercise, 15 to 30 percent of these people will develop the disease within five years.
The percentage of diabetes cases that are Type 2. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 is closely linked with obesity and can be prevented or controlled with healthy diet and exercise habits, and sometimes insulin or other medication.
1 in 4
The ratio of Americans who have Type 2 diabetes who don’t know it.
The percentage of Americans who have undiagnosed diabetes and have had heart attacks, said the American Heart Association in a separate study released this month. Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease, so researchers say people who’ve had a heart attack should ask for a diabetes test if they have a family history of the disease, are overweight or have high blood pressure.