Heartland counties rank unhealthy - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Heartland counties rank unhealthy

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By Christy Millweard - bio | email

(KFVS) - It's a growing problem across the U.S., but the Heartland is one of the worst. Diabetes affects 25 million people in our country, and doctors say the number is only getting worse.

A new report from the Center for Disease Control breaks down the number of cases, and the leading causes of the disease.

The highest number of cases are concentrated in the Midwest, and Southeast parts of the country.

In southeast Missouri, Wayne County tops the list with the highest percentage of adults with diabetes, 11 percent. That's one of the top three in the state.

In Illinois, the two highest counties are Alexander and Pulaski, also with 11 percent, the two worst in the state.

Kentucky as a state has some of the worst numbers in the country, specifically on the Eastern half of the state. In Western Kentucky, one of the worst counties is Hickman, with 12.9 percent of adults dealing with the disease.

In Tennessee, one of the worst counties in the state is Obion County where 13.4 percent of adults have diabetes.

Mary Etta Dunaway, a registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator, says she's not surprised by the high numbers in the Heartland.

"Eating habits growing up on fried foods and a higher fat, high calorie diet, and people used to work hard, they were farmers and active in their jobs," said Dunaway. "With every pound you gain, you increase the body's need to provide glucose and oxygen to every cell of the body."

Dunaway says one of the biggest excuses she hears is that healthy food is too expensive.

"People say they can't afford to buy fruits or vegetables or can't afford to buy a healthy diet, but you can spend money on fast food, I don't think money is a reason not to be able to eat healthy," said Dunaway.

Dunaway says as obesity rates increase in an area, the Diabetes rate usually increases within the next five years.

Take a look at the breakdown by clicking on the links below.

Percentage of adults diagnosed with diabetes by county in 2008.

Percentage of adults who were obese by county in 2008.

Percentage of adults who were physically inactive by county in 2008.

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