MANSFIELD – Although West Virginia ranks number one as the state with the largest diabetes rates in the country, Ohio doesn’t fall that far down on the list.
In 2019, America's Health Rankings rated Ohio as number 34 on a list of states from the lowest ratios of diabetes to the highest.
According to Ohio’s 2019 State Health Assessment, “Ohio’s adult diabetes prevalence (11.3%) was slightly higher than the U.S. (10.5%) in 2017. Ohio’s rate of long-term complications due to diabetes gradually declined from 2012 to 2016, although large disparities by race persisted.”
In Richland County, that number is even higher than the national average, sitting at 13%, according to the county's 2016 community health assessment.
With more than 73% of Richland County residents recorded as overweight in 2016, more than two-fifths (42%) of Richland County adults are classified as obese.
Other contributing factors to these high rates include adults already being diagnosed with high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol.
With high binge drinking rates and smoking rates in Ohio, according to America's Health Ratings, the state does not qualify among one of the healthiest states in the U.S.
Utah, however, ranks number two on the list with the lowest rates of diabetes at an age-adjusted rate of 8.8%, compared with the U.S. age-adjusted rate of 10.4%, according to Utah’s Public Health Indicator Based Information System (IBIS).
“Compared to the national average, the state of Utah is always significantly lower than the national average for diabetes and a lot of other chronic diseases, even hypertension and heart disease,” said Caitlyn Jasumback, epidemiologist at Utah Department of Health.
Although there are still some smaller areas within the state of Utah that have a higher diabetes rate than the U.S. average, Jasumback said the Utah Department of Health tries to “target those counties the most.”
Because a community within a county can vary greatly from one area to another, they’ve broken the state down the 29 counties into 99 areas that are more representative of the community and to help serve them better.
“We try to oversample in small areas that have lower population densities,” Jasumback said.
In addition, they also use the National Diabetes Prevention Program by the CDC for pre-diabetics or at-risk people who can enroll in classes, especially targeting those areas with higher rates of diabetes.
In Ohio, at OhioHealth hospitals, services such as support groups and personalized diabetes treatment programs are offered to give residents the best care and assurance they need to get healthy and active.
As for why diabetes rates are so low in Utah compared with other states and the U.S. average, Jasumback credits the state as having an active community that gets outdoors more often than other states, and also praises The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The culture of our state is more healthy. We don’t usually do a lot of binge activities, whether it’s binge drinking or binge-eating. And whether or not you want to have the Church of Fatherly Saints be the cause of that or whatever, it’s just kind of a culture that’s been set here,” Jasumback said.