More than half of Americans diagnosed with diabetes in the United States are also obese, a combination that dramatically increases the risks associated with the disease.

A new CDC report shows the prevalence of obesity among adults with diabetes in the United States has grown from 46 percent from 1988-1994 to 55 percent from 1999-2002.

Researchers say obesity in people with diabetes makes it harder for them to keep blood sugar levels under control and raises the risk of high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Losing weight, however, has been shown to reduce the risk of illness and death among overweight and obese people with diabetes.

Obesity in Diabetes Rising

In the study, published in the Nov. 19 edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers analyzed the prevalence of overweight and obesity among people with diabetes from 1988 to 2002 based on national survey data.

During this time, the prevalence of obesity among all adults overall in the U.S. rose from about 23 percent to more than 30 percent.

But among adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes, the prevalence of obesity was much higher and increased dramatically from 46 percent in 1988-1994 to 55 percent during 1999-2002.

The study also showed that obesity was more common among women with diabetes than men with diabetes. Fifty-eight percent of women with diabetes were obese during 1999-2002 compared with 53 percent of men. Women under age 65 with diabetes were also more likely to be obese than older women with diabetes.

Overall, the study showed that more than 86 percent of men and 84 percent of women with diabetes were overweight or obese in 1999-2002 and could benefit from weight loss through healthy eating and increased physical activity.

By Jennifer Warner, Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Nov. 19, 2004; vol 53: pp 1066-1068.