...But the Disease Is Increasing in Appalachia

Published Online: Saturday, November 1, 2003

    Researchers are baffled by the increased incidence of diabetes in Appalachia. They do not know whether lifestyle, diet, heredity, or a combination of factors is behind the increase. For example, in West Virginia, the only state entirely in Appalachia, 1 in 10 people aged 18 and older was told by a doctor that he or she had diabetes in 2002, according to recent surveys.

    Experts give several reasons why diabetes may be widespread in Appalachia, including the heavy, fatty meals the area?s miners, farmers, and industrial workers usually eat midday and the region?s prevalent poverty, which makes it more difficult to afford healthier meals or receive treatment.

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