(HealthDay News) — The U.S. obesity epidemic is a driving force behind the rising rates of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the September 2 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

The new study included information from U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, representing nearly 24,000 men and women, aged 20–74. Researchers looked at data from five national surveys spanning from 1976–2010 to determine how much the increase in diabetes over time could be explained by factors such as changing distribution of race, age, and obesity in U.S. adults.

The investigators found that the prevalence of diabetes in men rose from about 5% to more than 11%. In women, it rose from under 6% to nearly 9%. When the researchers looked at factors that might contribute to rising diabetes rates, obesity stood out. Although for men, it only explained about half the increase, according to the researchers.

“Overweight and obesity explained most of the increase in the prevalence of diabetes in the United States during this time period,” study researcher Andy Menke, PhD, an epidemiologist with Social & Scientific Systems, a private research organization, told HealthDay. The other factors they looked at — age, race, and ethnicity — “had little influence on changes in diabetes prevalence [during the study time period],” he said.

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