Diabetes, obesity increased in L.A. County

Both diabetes and obesity have increased across Los Angeles County in recent years, according to a report released Thursday by the county’s Department of Public Health and the American Diabetes Assn. of Los Angeles.

The age-adjusted adult diabetes rate increased from 6.6% to 9.1% between 1997 and 2007, according to the new report, “Trends in Diabetes: A Reversible Public Health Crisis.” Of the 650,000 people with diabetes in 2007, the most recent year available, about 90% of those with diabetes in 2007 had Type 2, primarily caused by obesity, according to the report.

The report draws on data from the Los Angeles County Health Survey, an annual telephone poll.


“It is unacceptable that so many people are suffering from a disease that, in most cases, can be prevented or controlled,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s public health director.

Fielding noted that, since 1997, diabetes has been the sixth leading cause of death in the county and contributes to heart disease, the leading cause of death countywide.

In 2007, the diabetes rate among African Americans increased to 11.4% and among Latinos to 12.8%, more than twice the rate of whites, 5.7%.

Diabetes rates also increased for those living below the federal poverty line during the decade covered by the report, from 9% to 14.7%, while those living at or above the poverty line did not see a major change.

Researchers noted that the increase in diabetes correlated with an increase in obesity countywide, and was probably preventable.

Obesity rates increased from 14.3% to 22.2% during the same period, with obesity rates among adults with diabetes more than double that of adults without diabetes, the report found.

“Diabetes has become the defining epidemic of today’s generation. But, while the incidence is staggering, this trend is reversible,” said Peter Braun, executive director of the American Diabetes Assn. of Los Angeles.