Is there something inherently unhealthy about living in certain parts of the country? You might think that if you looked at epidemiological reports that track rates of certain diseases by locations where they are most common. Back in the 1960s, researchers found that people in certain southeastern states had the highest risk of stroke; those states became known as the "stroke belt." Now, a new study finds that people in many of those same states are also more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
The study, published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, describes a "diabetes belt" of 644 counties in 15 states, most of them in the South. The researchers who conducted the study say that the population of the diabetes best is more likely to be African-American, obese, and have a sedentary lifestyle, and less likely to have a college degree.
None of this should be a surprise since previous research has shown that obesity, a lack of physical activity and limited education increase the chances of developing type 2 diabetes. But there is some good news here. Even though you obviously can't change your race, you can change at least some of these factors.
The authors urge communities in the diabetes belt to promote physical activity along with access to healthy food. That information could make a difference to millions of people.
There are a total of 644 counties in the diabetes belt in portions of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia – as well as the entire state of Mississippi.
For more on the causes of type 2 diabetes, click here.