The nation's diabetes problem is getting worse, and the biggest jump over 15 years was in Oklahoma, according to a federal report issued yesterday.

The diabetes rate in Oklahoma more than tripled, the study showed. Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama also saw dramatic increases since 1995.

The South's growing weight problem is the main explanation, said Linda Geiss, lead author of the report for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The rise in diabetes has really gone hand in hand with the rise in obesity," she said.

Bolstering the numbers is the fact that more people with diabetes are living longer because better treatments are available.

The disease exploded in the United States in the past 50 years, with the vast majority from obesity-related Type 2 diabetes. In 1958, fewer than 1 in 100 Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes. In 2010, it was about 1 in 14.

Most of the increase has happened since 1990.

Diabetes, a disease in which the body has trouble processing sugar, is the nation's seventh leading cause of death. Complications include poor circulation, heart and kidney problems and nerve damage.

The new study is the CDC's first in more than a decade to look at how the nationwide boom has played out in different states.

It's based on telephone surveys of at least 1,000 adults in each state in 1995 and 2010.

Not surprisingly, Mississippi, with the largest proportion of obese residents, has the highest diabetes rate. Nearly 12 percent of Mississippians say they have diabetes, compared with the national average of 7 percent.

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