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21 million Americans have diabetes, CDC says

WASHINGTON -- Almost 21 million Americans have diabetes, most of them the type-2 variety associated with poor diet, too little exercise, and being overweight, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday.

This represents about 7 percent of the population -- and more than 6 million of these people do not know they have the condition, the CDC said in a statement.

''Another 41 million people are estimated to have pre-diabetes, a condition that increases the risk of developing type-2 diabetes -- the most common form of the disease -- as well as heart disease and stroke," the CDC said.

Diabetes is a lack of control of glucose, or blood sugar. Type-1 diabetes, or juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune condition in which the body mistakenly destroys the pancreatic cells that make insulin. It affects an estimated 2 million Americans.

Type-2 diabetes was once called adult-onset diabetes, but it now affects many children as well. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and can lead to many other diseases.

''Diabetes is a leading cause of adult blindness, lower-limb amputation, kidney disease, and nerve damage," said Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of the CDC's diabetes program. ''Two-thirds of people with diabetes die from a heart attack or stroke."

The risk of diabetes increases with age. About 21 percent of Americans age 60 years or older have diabetes, the CDC said.

''Recent studies have shown that people with pre-diabetes can successfully prevent or delay the onset of diabetes by losing 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight," Vinicor said.

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