First, we had the "stroke belt," a swath of the American South characterized by those with unmanaged high blood pressure and a sedentary lifestyle. Then, we got the "obesity belt," a portion of Southern geography inhabited by a number of folks with elevated cardiovascular disease as well as a sedentary lifestyle.
Now, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have brought us the "diabetes belt," a county-by-county census of patients with type-2 diabetes. This swath of obesity and sedentary lifestyle also girds the American South, stretching down the southeastern seaboard, 'round the silty Mississippi Delta and following the Appalachian Mountains north across Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. It lessens just inside the borders of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
In the West, the diabetes census finds hot spots in Native American territories of Arizona, New Mexico and Montana, as well as in Nevada's Mineral County, and the southwestern corner of Washington.
The study is published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
By no coincidence, there is considerable overlap among these three belts. Much of its is simple demographics: Ethnicity and age are key factors in a person's risk of developing diabetes. African Americans, who are clustered densely inside the diabetes belt, appear to be predisposed to diabetes and metabolic disturbances, as are American Indians, who largely account for pockets of diabetes scattered throughout the Western states. (Curiously, although Latino descent is considered a risk factor for type-2 diabetes, the map shows little overlap between Latino population clusters and places where the incidence of diabetes is very high.)