UCLA Study Finds Nearly Half of California Adults on Path to Diabetes

Davis Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis speaking on the soda tax at a rally
Davis Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis speaking on the soda tax at a rally

A first-ever study found that nearly half of California adults – including one out of every three young adults – have prediabetes, a precursor to life-threatening type 2 diabetes, or undiagnosed diabetes, according to a new UCLA study. 

The research provides the first analysis and breakdown of California prediabetes rates by county, age and ethnicity, and “offers alarming insights into the future of the nation’s diabetes epidemic,” a release stated.  The study found that 13 million adults in California, which accounts for 46 percent of the state’s population, are estimated to have prediabetes or diabetes, while another 2.5 million adults (9 percent) have already been diagnosed with diabetes.

Combined, the two groups represent a majority of the state’s adult population, 15.5 million or 55 percent of the total population. “Since diabetes is more commonly seen among older adults, the study’s finding that 33 percent of young adults (18 to 39 years old) have prediabetes is of particular concern,” the release stated.

Conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and commissioned by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA), the landmark study analyzed hemoglobin A1c and fasting plasma glucose findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey together with California Health Interview Survey data from over 40,000 respondents.

Dr. Harold Goldstein, the report’s co-author and executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, based in Davis, told the Bee that he did not expect to see such high numbers. He told the paper, “The numbers are so large that they stop you in your tracks. … It’s hard to digest that the situation is as bad as it is.”

Moreover, he added, “These are the young adults who grew up during the childhood obesity epidemic.”

He said in a release, “This is the clearest indication to date that the type 2 diabetes epidemic is out of control and getting worse. With limited availability of healthy food in low income communities, a preponderance of soda and junk food marketing, and urban neighborhoods lacking safe places to play, we have created a world where diabetes is the natural consequence.”

Recently, the Davis City Council, under pressure from the beverage industry who dumped millions into fighting soda tax campaigns in Sacramento and Berkeley, declined to put a similar measure on the Davis ballot, instead suggesting the need to study the issue.

However, Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis has called this “the public health crisis of our time,” and in January warned that we have children “whose lives are starting to be taken away by fatty liver disease and the problem of over-consumption of sugary beverages.”

“These are lives lost, these are lives changed, these are families altered in ways that we can’t take back,” he continued.

“The challenge of sugar beverages is quite simple, they’re a delivery mechanism,” he explained. “They deliver fructose to the liver in probably the most efficient means of doing so. Quickly. And rather than being cleared by the liver, that sugar stays there and is turned into fat and that fat and the inhibition of fat burning that goes along with it, means that all the precursors of diabetes, heart disease and coronary artery disease – the genesis is occurring in that location.”

In Yolo County, the number is 48 percent of all adults – who have diabetes or prediabetes. As startling as that number may be, however, Yolo County is better off than most counties.

Prediabetes-1

Still, one in three people under the age of 40 are already pre-diabetic in Yolo County, and that number increases to over 50 percent for those over 40.

Prediabetes-3 Prediabetes-2

 

Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is genetic and not preventable, type 2 diabetes is preventable. “Diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, is a significant and growing health problem that affects both adults and children and can cause a number of serious complications, including blindness, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, amputation, and premature death. Nationally, the prevalence of diabetes among adults has nearly tripled over the past 30 years.”

The researchers note that ‘‘not only does diabetes increase the risk of serious medical complications, but it is also extremely costly to families, businesses, health care plans, states, and the nation.’’

The researchers note, “Almost 95 percent of diagnosed adult diabetes cases are type 2. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it, but over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar at normal levels.”

Type 2 diabetes “is a progressive disease that gradually wears out the pancreas and overloads the liver, resulting in higher blood sugar that damages vital organs, the nervous system and muscles. If not managed properly, the disease can have debilitating physical effects, including damaged blood vessels, heart attacks, strokes, blindness, liver disease, certain kinds of cancer, kidney failure, bone fractures and limb amputations, as well as premature death.”

They add, “Despite medical advances helping those with diabetes to live longer today than in the past, a 50-year-old individual with diabetes will, on average, die 8.5 years earlier than someone without diabetes.”

The study notes, “Diabetes cost the United States an estimated $245 billion in 2012, with $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in indirect costs (e.g. lost productivity, disability and premature death).

“In California, total health care and related costs for the treatment of diabetes is about $24.5 billion each year. The disease adds an extra $1.6 billion dollars every year in just hospitalization costs, with hospital stays for patients with diabetes costing nearly $2,200 more than for patients without diabetes. Three-quarters of that care is paid through Medicare and Medi-Cal, including $254 million in costs that are paid by Medi-Cal tax dollars. On average, medical expenditures for people with diabetes are 2.3 times more expensive than for those without diabetes.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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42 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    If not managed properly, the disease can have debilitating physical effects, including damaged blood vessels, heart attacks, strokes, blindness, liver disease, certain kinds of cancer, kidney failure, bone fractures and limb amputations, as well as premature death.”

    To say nothing of the risks associated with premature birth, a very high risk situation for the newborn, including the risks associated with immature lungs, neurologic deficits, musculoskeletal, vision,and intellectual impairments all contributing to the vastly increased medical and non medical costs of raising and sustaining these individuals throughout their entire lifespan. And this does not even begin to consider the costs of caregiving with the decreased possibility for economic contribution to the society of these care givers and the fact that the affected individual will be a cost not a contributor to our economy for the remainder of their lives. A cost born by the taxpayers as well as the individual who will have been robbed of his/her potential even before birth. And yes, this is the individual responsibility of the women who conceives while having a preventable condition. But we are only fooling ourselves if we fail to understand that we are all paying for it.

  2. Frankly

    What percentage of these young people are recent immigrants?

    What percentage of these your people are illegal immigrants, or the children of illegal immigrants?

    Is the cost of our state’s large obesity problem largely related to our nations immigration problem?

    At the very least we need to control for this to understand the source of the problem.  Because you cannot fix a problem unless you truly understand its source.

    1. hpierce

      Generally speaking, the ‘source’ of the type II diabetes problem is pretty evident… poor diet choices, lack of physical exercise… some genetics… think those pretty much transcend racial/ethnic/immigration status lines.

      Those are pretty dumb questions, frankly.

        1. Frankly

          Mexico is the most obese country.

          Why?

          Don’t know exactly.

          Might makes some sense though to figure it out before we start implementing “solutions”.

        2. The Pugilist

          Why do you keep repeating something after it’s been debunked?  This gets back to our conversation from the other day.  You shifted your debate when I called you on your glaring inconsistency.  You’re not intellectually honest.

    2. wdf1

      Frankly:  At the very least we need to control for this to understand the source of the problem. 

      Also, schools in the 21st century have had less incentive to provide time and access to physical activity, physical education, recess, and athletics because it takes time away that could be spent raising standardized test scores.  Also because of the perspective that time spent on physical activity doesn’t direct students toward a life of economic self-sufficiency.

  3. Alan Miller

    I too believe in awareness over the issue, so each individual may be informed and make decisions in their life.  What seems to be the implication is:  “therefore there should be a soda tax”.  My brain doesn’t make that connection, doesn’t go there.

  4. Tia Will

    Alan

    What seems to be the implication is:  “therefore there should be a soda tax”.  My brain doesn’t make that connection, doesn’t go there.”

    Well then, let me offer a different perspective.

    I suspect that you are a pragmatist, as I am. No one is claiming that this is a panacea….or even a large step. But every single step forward that humans have ever made has been made one step at a time. Recently one member of our community told me that hearing me talk about my issue with soda at City Council prompted him to also quit. Every social, economic, environmental, and technological change has been composed of individual decisions. When we make a commodity more expensive some will make the decision to use less, and others will at least become more aware. One step, one individual at a time. What could be more pragmatic and more based on individual decisions than that ?

     

    1. tribeUSA

      Yes, i hope the sugary soda tax proposal comes back, it’s got my vote. It seems to me obesity and diabetes are huge problems, maybe having a higher impact on the US Population than smoking once did.

      The proceeds can go toward nutrition and health education.

  5. gentlereader

    Frankly
    March 10, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Mexico is the most obese country.
    Why?
    Don’t know exactly.
    Might makes some sense though to figure it out before we start implementing “solutions”.<<

    America is more obese than Mexico (we’re like 18th, Mexico 33 or something). The pacific island countries are the most obese. No point figuring out an untruth.

        1. Frankly

          The study does show a higher rate for Latinos in the 18-34 age group… the primary one we should be targeting for “solutions” other than the 5-18 year old group which is missing for some reason.  So no, my point has not been refuted.  I will certainly agree that this study shows a smaller difference that I guessed by observation.

          But I question the accurace of this study when the same cohort of Asians has a higher rate of obesity than does the white cohort.

          Has this study been peer reviewed?

        2. wdf1

          Frankly:  You were very critical of David Greenwald and the Vanguard for latching on to racial identity when discussing issues of AIM identitification (here).  And yet here you seem to be remarkably uncritical of a similar thing going on with measuring prevalence of diabetes.  Why is that?

          Personally, I think identifying trends by race can be interesting, but in many instances potentially distract the conversation from what could be more fundamental root causes, such as income level, education level, or language barriers.

          Based on what is presented in this blog article and Greenwald’s link, I ask if there are any statistical trends that can test if prevalence is income dependent, and/or dependent on education level.  I didn’t find any breakdown of diabetes/pre-diabetes statistics in Greenwald’s link to the UCLA study, nevertheless, several times the document suggests solutions of targeting lower-income communities to bring down rates of diabetes. It’s seems like a reasonable point of discussion, but can we test that first? Did I miss something?

        3. Frankly

          Good points wdf1.

          I am irritated with two primary narrative/things relative to any debate on race and both of them are really the same.  That is the manufacturing of social racial justice cause that results in deflection from the true root causes that we should be targeting.

          Social justice liberals have a conflict of interest in that they demand we allow in so many poor and uneducated people and then they use those people to justify social justice cause.

          I am not anti-Latino.  I am not anti-immigrant.  I am anti illegal immigrant.  And I am anti-political correctness blocking the addressing of racial behavior differences that contribute to general negative social outcomes.

          I certainly do agree that lower income people have a higher incidence of obesity.  It is also true that lower income people tend to have a lower level of education.

          First point is that we cannot do much about obese adults to change their eating habits.  We should focus on the youngsters.

          I am 100% in favor of more education and including food education in the curriculum.  Also, I am 100% in favor of more physical education in the curriculum.

          Because these things that help improve human health circumstances contribute to a greater percentage of people becoming economically self-sufficient.

          1. Don Shor

            Inasmuch as the United States and Mexico have very similar levels of obesity, your argument is pointless. You’re the one that brought race into a discussion of obesity. You’re the one that insinuated that the obesity in the United States is a function of illegal immigration. So…

            I am anti-political correctness blocking the addressing of racial behavior differences that contribute to general negative social outcomes.

            Suggest you stop trying to impute racial behavior where it barely exists, if at all, and would really like conservatives to stop hiding behind the phrase “political correctness” when they really just want to make broad racial generalizations.

        4. wdf1

          June 2014, Science Magazine: Vast genetic diversity among Mexicans found in large-scale study

          Some of Mexico’s indigenous groups are as genetically different from one another as Europeans from Chinese. Cosmopolitan Mexicans reflect these differences, which affect biomedical traits.

           

          The study, published June 13 in Science, soundly refutes the current practice of lumping together Mexicans or Latinos as a homogenous group for genetic, clinical or population studies.

        5. Frankly

          if at all, and would really like conservatives to stop hiding behind the phrase “political correctness” when they really just want to make broad racial generalizations

          Wrong.  Nobody is hiding behind the phrase political correctness.  And note by your comment the creeping demand that we add the term “political correctness” to the political correctness speech code rules.  It is just absurd how that seems to work… eliminate all the words and phrases that make a point in opposition.  It is Orwellian.

          Generalizations are fine where there are statistics to support them.  There are in this case.  You want to trivialize them… that is your decision.

          And why is it racial?  Maybe it is cultural.  In fact, based on other data, it does appear to be more a cultural issue.

           

        6. Frankly

          Thanks wdf1 – That is interesting and makes sense.

          As I say, maybe it is a cultural issue.  It appears so.

          I would like to see a peer-reviewed study that shows racial groups by income level and rates of obesity.

          I tend to see the base solution as being better education.  But who we should target for that education is important to understand. It seems that the push back against my questions is to generalize that the entire population is same, same and so it justifies nanny government solutions like taxing soda.  The data don’t support that gross generalization and so they also don’t support that demanded “solution”.

        7. wdf1

          Frankly: As I say, maybe it is a cultural issue.  It appears so.

          I would dispute that, too.  There is more cultural diversity among Mexican-Americans and among Latino-Americans than I think you assume.

          How much cultural diversity might you see among white Americans?  Asian-Americans? (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakastani, Persian, Arabs, and more)  African-Americans?

    1. Misanthrop

      100 years ago my grandfather cut cloth in sweatshops, then he joined the union, then he educated his kids in public schools, who went to war to fight the fascists and  came home and sent his kids to college. But in those days a bottle of coke was 6.5 oz. Today they are 20 0z.

  6. Tia Will

    A hundred years ago we chopped cotton. Today we sit at computers. That’s the problem.”

    Well, that is certainly part of a much more complicated issue. A hundred years ago we did not spend hours in our cars. Our diets did not provide us with huge amounts of sugar daily nor were we surrounded by more food than we could possibly consume.

     

    1. The Pugilist

      Statistical analysis shows that we are consuming more sugar – much more – and it shows us where it is coming from.  Why do people keep fighting against the numbers?

      1. Frankly

        We don’t so much fight the numbers as we fight the social justice liberal crusade to insert nanny government at every “problem” they can find or manufacture.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          We don’t so much fight the numbers as we fight the social justice liberal crusade to insert nanny government at every “problem” they can find or manufacture.”

          Honest question. Do you believe that the increasing rate of the diagnosis of diabetes is a “manufactured” problem ?

           

        2. Frankly

          I can answer your question, but first answer this question.

          Do you say it is a crisis?

          And by the way, soda sales have been declinging for the last decade due to increasing consumer education about the risks of drinking too much soda.

  7. Biddlin

    “social justice liberal crusade to insert nanny government at every “problem” they can find or manufacture.”

    You just keep proving my theory. This is a medically driven approach to curb an epidemic you wont even acknowledge, …[edited]
    [moderator] please refrain from personal attacks.

  8. Biddlin

    [moderator] please refrain from personal attacks.

    “What percentage of these young people are recent immigrants?

    What percentage of these your people are illegal immigrants, or the children of illegal immigrants?

    Is the cost of our state’s large obesity problem largely related to our nations immigration problem?

    At the very least we need to control for this to understand the source of the problem.  Because you cannot fix a problem unless you truly understand its source.”

    “Social justice liberals have a conflict of interest in that they demand we allow in so many poor and uneducated people and then they use those people to justify social justice cause.”

    Then curb the precipitant.

  9. Tia Will

    Frankly

    nanny government solutions like taxing soda”

    I fail to see how you define taxing soda as a “nanny government” solution. This is not a ban.It is not a decree.  It is a tax upon which we would vote and therefore would be self imposed only if enough individual citizens favored the measure. It prevents no one from drinking all the soda that they desire and can afford just as we do for every other taxable item.

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