Thursday, 16 August 2007

The undiagnosed: men benefit most as disparity evens out

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According to a RAND Corporation study, fewer and fewer diabetics are going undiagnosed these days. Specifically, the gap has closed dramatically over the last twenty-five years. So much so that Hispanics and African Americans are now no more likely than whites to be undiagnosed. Good news, to be sure.

And the news is especially good for men. James P. Smith, who authored the study, says that twenty-five years ago about fifty percent of men with diabetes did not even know they had the disease. Jump forward to 1999-2002, however, and the number drops to about twenty percent.

Smith concludes that even though ethnic and gender disparities remain, we are certainly doing a lot better at getting people diagnosed and into treatment. Diabetes programs that target minorities can take a lot of the credit for this shift, Smith believes.

On the down side, the less-educated people among us are much more likely to go undiagnosed and, when diagnosed, are less likely to successfully incorporate lifestyle changes required to manage the disease. Also of concern, Smith says, is the fact that even though obese people are at a high risk for diabetes, they nevertheless are more likely to have undiagnosed diabetes than are slimmer people.

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