Diabetes in US women on the rise independent of increasing BMI and other risk factors; a trend investigation of serial cross-sections

BMC Public Health. 2014 Sep 15:14:954. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-954.


Background: The epidemic of diabetes continues leaving an enormous and growing burden of chronic disease to public health. This study investigates this growing burden of diabetes independent of increasing BMI in a large population based female sample, 2006-2010.

Methods: Serial cross-sectional data using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2006-2010 surveys from 1,168,418 women. Diabetes was assessed by self-report of a physician diagnosis, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated based on self-reported height and weight.

Results: Almost 60% of women responders had a BMI > 25 (defined as overweight or obese). Diabetes was reported in 16% of respondents whose BMI > 25, and in 4% of respondents with reported BMI ≤ 25. Overall, 11% of the women in this sample reported being diagnosed with diabetes, of whom 83% had a BMI > 25. BMI, physical activity, age, and race were each independently associated with diabetes (p-value < 0.05). The odds of reported diabetes increased each year independent of BMI, physical activity, age, and race.

Conclusions: After adjusting for age, race, physical activity, and year of survey response, results indicate a threefold increase in diabetes among respondents with a BMI > 25 (OR = 3.57; 95% CI = 3.52-3.63). Potentially more alarming was a notable increase in odds of diabetes across the years of study among women, implying a near 30 percent projected increase in odds of diabetes diagnoses by 2020. This is likely due to advances in diagnosis and treatment but also highlights a burden of disease that will have a growing and sustained impact on public health and healthcare systems.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult