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County-Level Data Reveals Diabetes, Obesity Hot Spots

Model-based estimates use national data to help local policy-making; rates highest in South

FRIDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Model-based estimates can give meaningful and valid county-level data on the prevalence of diabetes and obesity that is useful for local public health officials, according to a report published in the Nov. 20 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Edward W. Gregg, Ph.D., of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Atlanta, and colleagues used Bayesian multi-level modeling to take the national and state-level data generated by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to produce county-level diabetes and obesity estimates of all 3,141 counties in the United States in 2007.

The researchers found high prevalence rates for obesity and diabetes, at or above 10.6 and 30.9 percent, respectively, in West Virginia, the Appalachian counties of Tennessee and Kentucky, large parts of the Mississippi Delta, and a swathe of the south across Louisiana, Mississippi, middle Alabama, south Georgia and the coastal areas of North and South Carolina. Isolated counties, including tribal lands in the West, also had higher prevalence rates.

"This report demonstrates how model-based estimates can identify areas with populations at high risk, providing local public health officials with important data to assist them in developing targeted programs to reduce diabetes and obesity," the authors write.

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