Diabetes Rates Are Finally Starting to Fall

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Americans have been slowly improving their diets, moving away from sugary drinks and highly processed food. And they’re starting to reap the fruits, so to speak, of this shift.

The latest evidence: After a quarter century of steady rise, the rate at which people contract diabetes declined by a fifth between 2008 and 2014, reports The New York Times’ Sabrina Tavernise, pointing to a new release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tavernise puts the trend into context:

There is growing evidence that eating habits, after decades of deterioration, have finally begun to improve. The amount of soda Americans drink has declined by about a quarter since the late 1990s, and the average number of daily calories children and adults consume also has fallen. Physical activity has started to rise, and once-surging rates of obesity, a major driver of Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, have flattened.

The situation is hardly rosy, she makes clear: New diabetes cases still accumulate at double the rate they did in the early ’90s, and most of the declines have accrued to college graduates, while the “rates for the less educated have flattened but not declined.” And large racial disparities remain:

CDC

But the trends point downward. That’s something to celebrate.