More veterans are developing diabetes, say researchers from East Tennessee University in Johnson City, Tennessee. The rise is linked to a similar climb in obesity rates.
The researchers analyzed data from 5 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The survey sample sizes ranged from 472 to 685.
Diabetes prevalence rose from 15.5% in 2005-2006 to 20.5% in 2013-2014, and rose significantly among men, from 16.5% in 2005-2006 to 22% in 2013-2014. Diabetes was most prevalent among veterans who were aged > 65 years, had more than 12 years of education, and had an income below the 100% federal poverty level. Those same subgroups had the highest prevalence of obesity except for the age subgroup. Obesity was more prevalent among veterans aged 45 to 64 years. Hispanic veterans had the highest prevalence of both obesity and diabetes.
The researchers note that some factors limited the accuracy of the estimated prevalence of diabetes among U.S. veterans when using VA databases. One is that in fiscal year 2014, < 30% of the total veteran population sought VA health care, and > 70% sought care outside the VA system even though some were enrolled.