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Age at Diagnosis of Diabetes in Appalachia
Family and Community Health
  • Lawrence Barker
  • Robert Gerzoff
  • Richard Crespo, Marshall University
  • Molly Shrewsberry, Marshall University
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
9-30-2011
Abstract
Background Appalachia is a region of the United States noted for the poverty and poor health outcomes of its residents. Residents of the poorest Appalachian counties have a high prevalence of diabetes and risk factors (obesity, low income, low education, etc.) for type 2 diabetes. However, diabetes prevalence exceeds what these risk factors alone explain. Based on this, the history of poor health outcomes in Appalachia, and personally observed high rates of childhood obesity and lack of concern about prediabetes, we speculated that people in Appalachia with diagnosed diabetes might tend to be diagnosed younger than their non-Appalachian counterparts. Methods We used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2006-2008). We compared age at diagnosis among counties by Appalachian Regional Commission-defined level of economic development. To account for risk differences, we constructed a model for average age at diagnosis of diabetes, adjusting for county economic development, obesity, income, sedentary lifestyle, and other covariates. Findings After adjustment for risk factors for diabetes, people in distressed or at-risk counties (the least economically developed) had their diabetes diagnosed two to three years younger than comparable people in non-Appalachian counties. No significant differences between non-Appalachian counties and Appalachian counties at higher levels of economic development remained after adjusting. Conclusions People in distressed and at-risk counties have poor access to care, and are unlikely to develop diabetes at the same age as their non-Appalachian counterparts but be diagnosed sooner. Therefore, people in distressed and at-risk counties are likely developing diabetes at younger ages. We recommend that steps to reduce health disparities between the poorest Appalachian counties and non-Appalachian counties be considered.
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© 2011 Barker et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Citation Information
Barker et al.: Age at diagnosis of diabetes in Appalachia. Population Health Metrics 2011 9:54. doi:10.1186/1478-7954-9-54