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CDC Warns About High Prevalence Areas of Diabetes, Obesity

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 23, 2009

Just before America prepares for its most ceremonial meal, the federal government's disease agency released two maps showing rates for diabetes and, for the first time, rates for obesity on a county-by-county basis.

The maps show wide areas of the Southeast, Appalachia, and some tribal lands in the West and in the Northern Plains have the highest rates of diabetes and obesity.  Rates of diagnosed diabetes exceed 10% in many counties within those areas, and some are as high as 15%. Obesity prevalence is more than 30% in those areas as well, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The highest rates for both diagnoses are found in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, where 81% of counties have high rates of both diabetes and obesity. In the south, specifically Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, 75% of the counties have high rates of residents with dual diagnoses.

The CDC said that by zeroing in to see the picture in each county, epidemiologists can provide "public health officials with important data to assist them in developing targeted programs to reduce diabetes and obesity."

The maps reflect responses to a telephone survey conducted among a sample of 1.2 million adults 20 and over in all 3,141 counties. Respondents were asked to reply to the question: "Has a doctor ever told you that you have diabetes?"

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