DATA DEPENDENT: Mapping the scourge of diabetes in America

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Diabetes is one of the top causes of death in the United States. It is also one that, to a degree, can be tempered by the combination of a proper diet and moderate exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes accounted for 83,564 deaths in 2017, placing just behind Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. 12.6% of the total population over 20 years of age are suspected to have diabetes, with only 9.6% being diagnosed clinically.

The heaviest concentration of adults diagnosed with diabetes lies in the southern half of the country. This includes the Puerto Rico which has one of the largest percentage of diabetes cases at 13.7%.

Breaking down the diabetes percentages by age reveals that most Americans younger than 44 years of age are less likely to be diabetic. It’s important to note that the color values in the following graphics changes.

However, by the time adults reach middle age, the numbers of clinically diagnosed diabetics skyrockets. The American south, in particular, shows a significant bump.

The numbers only get worse for Americans beginning the early years of their retirement. The dark shades of blue represent 23.9-37.1% of the population.

The progression of the disease over the past 22 years is evident in the following graphics.

In 1994, the distribution of diabetes was relatively light and evenly spread across America. Yet, the beginnings of its prevalence in the American south was already beginning to take shape.

By 2000, the increase of diabetes across America gains momentum, intensifying in the south while spreading to most of the United States. Puerto Rico is among the hardest hit by the disease.

Five years later, South Carolina is the first state to breach double digits.

By 2011, the diabetes distribution map pretty much resembles the 2016 version.

Across the United States, men have higher percentages of diabetes compared to women, though not by much.

When broken down by education level, the distribution of diabetes among the American population indicates that adults lacking a high school diploma have the highest incidence of diabetes. They are followed by adults with only high school diplomas.

Adults without high school diplomas.
Adults with only high school diplomas.
Adults with college degrees or higher.

So just how does the increase in diabetes cases translate into actual effects on people? Here’s how much sooner people are dying because of the disease.

Of course, being diagnosed with diabetes isn’t a death sentence. Medication and behavior modification go a long way toward managing the disease. Still, it’s hard not to see the toll a preventable, non-communicable disease is taking on the American population.

WORDS: Marc Landas

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons; Centers For Disease Control

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