"This is clearly a very pressing problem," said study co-author Michael O'Grady, a senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. "It's one of the few chronic illnesses we have that is growing, and the cost of doing nothing is going to be quite high."
Matt Peterson, director of information resources at the American Diabetes Association, said that community-based intervention programs that include dietary counseling and exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes most days of the week, can help combat the trend.
"We're not talking about massive weight loss or for everyone to become marathon runners," Peterson said. "We are talking about modest weight loss of 10 to 15 pounds. It's a challenge, but it's an achievable goal."
For those with diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends modest weight loss, increased physical activity, maintaining A1C (blood sugar) levels below 7, cholesterol control and blood pressure control to prevent complications.
The American Diabetes Association has more on living with diabetes.
SOURCES: Elbert Huang, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago; Michael O'Grady, Ph.D., senior fellow, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago; Matt Peterson, director, information resources, American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Va.; David Kendall, M.D., chief scientific and medical officer, American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Va.; December 2009 Diabetes Care