Diabetes: a growing problem

Did you know that the average Californian has gained 10 pounds in the last 10 years? That’s a huge weight increase, and because obesity increases people’s susceptibility to diabetes, it’s inevitably going to lead to more cases of the disease. Diabetes is a chronic, incurable disease that can cause severe health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputation. As of 2000, 1.5 million Californians had diabetes, 5.9 percent of the population. Health experts believe the figure is approaching 2 million today. It’s the seventh-leading cause of death in California and the sixth in the United States. Here’s where Butte County stood in 2001 compared to selected other counties in diabetes incidence and mortality rates (Marin was lowest in incidence, Tulare highest), according to data from the state Department of Health Services. (The figures on average annual deaths from diabetes are for the years 2000-02. Statewide, the average was 6,481 per year.)

av. annual deaths

County % diabetic # diabetic from diabetes

Marin 3.7 7,300 31.3

Yolo 4.2 5,100 30.7

Ventura 4.9 26,500 150.3

Butte 6.1 9,600 47.3

Kern 6.7 31,000 150.0

Riverside 7.6 83,300 280.3

Tulare 9.9 25,300 95.3