Reported cases of diabetes have spiked by more than 40% in Iowa over a recent 10-year period, according to data that show climbing rates of the disease in all 50 states.
In 2007, 6.8% of Iowa’s population had diabetes, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2017, the most recent year for which data were available, that figure had risen to 9.6%.
While every state saw some increase, Iowa, at 41%, had the sixth-highest rate of increase in the 10-year period. Wisconsin also made the top 10, coming in ninth with a 40% spike. In Illinois, the increase was 25%.
Factors such as personal and family health history, genetics, age and even race all play a role in developing the disease. Whatever the cause, health care professionals agree that its prevalence is cause for concern.
“It’s crazy how much it’s gone up,” said Cindy Rowley, clinical nurse leader at MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center.
Rowley said that of the two variations of diabetes, 95% of the cases are type 2. Lifestyle can influence the development of the illness.
“(Diabetes) tends to go hand in hand with obesity and overweight patients,” she said, adding that the disease is progressive and “once you have diabetes, you always have diabetes.”
Chelsea Guenzler, a nurse and certified diabetes educator with UnityPoint Health-Finley Hospital Kehl Diabetes Center in Dubuque, said the tri-state area has many options to help the public lead healthier lifestyles.
“There’s lots of opportunity to be active, (outdoor) clubs to get active with,” she said. “Right now is also an awesome time to take advantage of local food options and eat healthier.”
There are also programs that seek to provide pre-diabetic and diabetic patients with resources to manage their health.
Sue Matye, director and health officer with the Iowa County, Wis., Health Department, said her agency has offered the CDC’s diabetes prevention program since 2017.
The program pairs a participant with a lifestyle coach, as well as medical staff, to “talk about eating healthier, including (more) physical activity and learning to cope with triggers for unhealthy habits,” she said.
The Living with Diabetes program similarly assists patients who have been diagnosed with the disease.
“Public health is always trying to focus on prevention if we can,” she said. “I hate to give a doom-and-gloom message. There are things you can do. People can live a very healthy life with it.”
The Kehl Diabetes Center also works one-on-one with patients to manage the conditions.
“Our goal is to improve quality of life and help them be the best version of themselves,” Guenzler added.
Health care providers encourage patients to make getting an annual physical a priority as it can help alert both patient and physician to warning signs.
“A big part of it is seeing your primary care doctor on a regular basis,” Guenzler said.