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DOH: Diabetes, Related Illnesses Now A Citywide Epidemic

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TWC News: DOH: Diabetes, Related Illnesses Now A Citywide Epidemic
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An alarming new report released Monday by the city's Department of Health shows every 90 minutes a New Yorker dies of a diabetes-related illness. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.

It's a milestone that no one is celebrating: Deaths from diabetes-related causes reached an all-time high in 2011 and the epidemic is getting worse every year.

According to the city's Department of Health, the number of deaths linked to the chronic illness nearly doubled from 6 percent in 1990 to 10.8 percent in 2011.

"Fifty-seven hundred people are dying of diabetes-related causes. That's the most we've ever had. And that means 11 percent of our deaths in New York City are related to diabetes," said City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.

Experts say overweight New Yorkers are at greatest risk for diabetes-related heart disease, kidney failure and respiratory illness.

"Obesity rates have been rising for the last 30 years. The greatest risk factor for diabetes is obesity so as we have an epidemic of obesity, we have an epidemic of diabetes," Dr. Farley added.

The study shows that blacks are being hit the hardest of all racial groups in the city, followed by Hispanics, whites and Asians.

It also shows diabetes-related mortality rates are more than twice as high in low-income neighborhoods like Brownsville in Brooklyn and Mott Haven in the Bronx.

"I've heard people say diabetes is one of those things everybody has. But you know what? Diabetes is not one of those things everybody has - it's not normal - it's absolutely preventable. The same way obesity is preventable," Farley said.

Doctors say the best way to prevent diabetes is to eat a sensible low-calorie diet, avoid sugary drinks, exercise and get regular check-ups.

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