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Huge diabetes increase predicted for New York and nation

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The number of people suffering from diabetes in New York State is projected to increase 44 percent over the next 15 years, according to a stunning report released Thursday that found that 15 percent of New Yorkers could be dealing with the disease by 2025.

As a result, the cost for all the amputations, renal failure, blindness, depression and other maladies associated with the chronic illness will be a dizzying $28.4 billion — a 50 percent increase over what we pay today, the study found.

“We’re creating far more disease than we can afford to pay for,” said Dr. William Rowley, a senior fellow at the Institute for Alternative Futures, based in Alexandria, Va., which released the report.

A state health department spokesman said Thursday that rising rates of both diabetes and obesity become a tax burden on health programs, so the agency supports public policy efforts such as taxes on sugary sodas and increases in physical activity for school children.

The institute estimated that nationally, there will be a 64 percent jump in the number of diabetes cases, leaving one in seven Americans dealing with the disease. New York ranked as the fourth most critical “hot spot” in the nation, following California, Texas and Florida.

Reasons for the epidemic are in part demographic. Poor people are more likely to develop high blood sugar, as are the elderly, according to the institute. African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans are also at higher genetic risk, so states with large populations of those groups are particularly hard hit.

But the biggest factor behind the explosion is an increasingly sedentary, stressful and unhealthy lifestyle, experts said.

“We’re not getting nearly enough physical activity, our portion sizes are much larger and our food isn’t healthy. We’re eating more processed food,” Rowley said. Sleep deprivation and stress also play roles in turning on diabetic genes.

By adding five 30-minute sessions of physical activity each week and losing a modest amount of weight, however, those with pre-diabetes can reduce their risk of developing the disease by 58 percent, according to experts.

Projected impact of diabetes by 2025:
14: Percentage of Americans with diabetes
15: Percentage of New Yorkers with the disease
$28.4B: New York state medical and societal costs linked to the illness

Source: Institute for Alternative Futures

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