After 20 years on the rise, new cases of diagnosed diabetes mellitus (DM) in the US have declined by 35%, from 1.7 million in 2008 to 1.3 million in 2017, according to CDC researchers. Not only that: The number of people living with diagnosed DM in the US has remained stable for the past 8 years.
The findings represent the longest decline in new DM cases and the longest sustained plateau in existing cases. Between 1990 and 2009, the number of people living with diagnosed diabetes (DD) rose 4.4% per year, peaked at 8.2 per 100 adults, then leveled off at 8 per 100 in 2017. The trends were similar across age groups, racial and ethnic groups, and genders.
In part, the plateau may be due to the fact that people with DM are living longer, the researchers suggest, pointing to recent reports of a decline in cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in adults with DD.
But maybe the work to “stem the tide of type 2 diabetes” is finally having an effect, says Ann Albright, PhD, director of the CDC Division of Diabetes Translation. She stresses the importance of “putting science-proven programs into action,” citing the National Diabetes Prevention Program as a prime example. But she adds, “We must also increase access to affordable, healthier foods, and safe places to be active.”
The news about the decrease in new diabetes cases comes simultaneously with findings from the Restoring Insulin Secretion (RISE) Adult and Pediatric Medication Studies, which found that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) progression slows during treatment but resumes after treatment stops.
The research, funded by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), was aimed at finding ways to preserve β-cell function. The adult study randomly assigned participants aged 20 to 65 years to receive long-acting insulin (glargine) for 3 months, followed by metformin for 9 months; liraglutide with metformin for 12 months; metformin alone for 12 months; or placebo. Participants’ β-cell function and blood glucose control improved on the treatments, with those in the liraglutide/metformin group showing the most improvement. But the improvements did not persist after treatment ended. “[T]reatment options were equally effective while people were actively on them,” says study chair Dr. Steven Kahn, from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. “But people need to stay on treatment to maintain the benefits.”
The youth study (participants aged 10-19 years) study compared 3 months of insulin glargine, followed by metformin for 9 months, to metformin alone for 12 months. (Insulin glargine and metformin are the only FDA-approved drugs for young people with T2D ) β-cell function declined in the 2 pediatric treatment groups and even worsened after treatment ended. The studies support earlier evidence that T2DM affects young people differently and more aggressively than it does in adults, NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin Rodgers says.