Health & Medicine

Diabetes deaths exploding in California’s under-55 population

Mom describes how costs add up to treat her daughter's diabetes

Nicole Brito, a Sacramento mother of a 7-year-old with diabetes, describes the financial impact of paying for insulin, needles, test strips, glucose monitors and other equipment needed to keep her daughter healthy.
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Nicole Brito, a Sacramento mother of a 7-year-old with diabetes, describes the financial impact of paying for insulin, needles, test strips, glucose monitors and other equipment needed to keep her daughter healthy.

Deaths from Type II diabetes in California among people under age 55 were practically unheard of 15 years ago. Just 24 people in that age group died from the disease in California in 1999.

Times have changed. In 2015, 390 Californians under age 55 died from the disease, according to new figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deaths from Type II diabetes have risen across all age groups. About 4,900 Californians died from the disease last year, for a rate of 12.5 deaths per 100,000 people, up from 2 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999.

But the death rate among the under-55 group has grown exponentially. About 3.6 out of every 100,000 Californians between ages 35 and 54 died from the disease last year, roughly 18 times the death rate in 1999, CDC figures show.

The trend is mirrored in the Sacramento region. Almost 130 area residents under age 55 died from Type II diabetes between 2011 and 2015, up from 15 deaths between 1999 and 2004.

Death rates are rising across all racial groups, but are highest among African Americans and American Indians. And men ages 35 to 54 are dying from the disease at almost double the rate of women, the CDC figures show.

There is a strong correlation between Type II diabetes and obesity. About 30 percent of Californians between 35 and 54 were obese in 2015, up from 22 percent in 2001, according to the California Health Interview Survey conducted annually by UCLA researchers.

Data Tracker is a regular feature that breaks down the numbers behind today’s news. Explore more trends at sacbee.com/datatracker.

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