If there ever was any question that Virginians need to act more aggressively to improve public health, there shouldn’t be any longer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released new data showing that the incidence of diabetes has increased dramatically in all states between 1995 and 2010. Diabetes among adults in Virginia now stands at 8.3%.
That’s right around the national average. I suppose we can console ourselves that our diabetes rate is the lowest of all the states south of the Mason-Dixon line, but that’s a pretty low standard. It’s like taking finding solace in the fact we have less malnutrition than Ethiopia or Somalia.
There are broad differences in the incidence of diabetes within Virginia. The lowest rate at 7.5% is Arlington County. At the high end, the rate in Petersburg is 13.5%. Broadly speaking, the healthiest regions are Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. The southeastern quadrant of Virginia is a disaster zone. To view the CDC’s interactive atlas, click here.
There is a direct correlation between diabetes and obesity, as the interactive atlas makes abundantly clear. And there’s a direct connection between what people eat, and how much exercise they get, and obesity. Regular readers of Bacon’s Rebellion know our philosophy for tackling this problem: (1) building more walkable/bikable communities, (2) eating more locally grown food, and (3) cleaning up our streams, river and Bay as part of a broader push to improve recreational opportunities.