New numbers are painting a dire picture of the growing diabetes epidemic in New York City, as the Department Of Health is continuing its legal struggle to enact a ban on large sugary drinks.
Compiling data from studies done over the last 20 years, the city Department Of Health found that since 1993 diabetes has increased among adult New Yorkers by 150 percent, from 4.2 percent of adults in 1993 to 10.5 percent in 2011.
City health officials found nearly 650,000 New Yorkers reported having diabetes in 2011, which is 200,000 more than a decade ago.
They also estimate that 230,000 more may have had the disease in 2011 but were unaware of it.
The numbers show that the rate of diabetes in the city — 10.5 percent in 2011 — was higher than the national average of 9.2 percent.
NY1 spoke with the city health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, about these figures, and he said the department thought it was time to once again point out the burden of diabetes in New York City.
"I think these statistics are very disturbing," said Farley. "We have an epidemic of obesity that is driving an epidemic of diabetes. People with obesity are twice as likely to have diabetes."
Farley and the Bloomberg administration were dealt a blow last month when a state Supreme Court Judge struck down their portion cap rule for sugary drinks, which the city has since appealed.
They are now trying to shift the focus to diabetes. The new summary also finds the disease disproportionately impacts high-poverty communities. The areas of the city with the highest diabetes rates in 2011 were Fordham-Bronx Park, the northeast Bronx, South Bronx, and East New York and Williamsburg-Bushwick in Brooklyn.
The summary also finds that diabetes disproportionately affects the city's high-poverty communities, with the highest rates among Hispanic, black and South Asian New Yorkers.
"Who are at a greater risk for blindness, for kidney failure, for amputations and all that goes with diabetes," said Farley.
The health commissioner did not hesitate to link the consumption of sugary drinks to the rising number of diabetics.
"Sugary drinks are the largest single contributor to the obesity epidemic," Farley said. "one of the greatest contributors is this super sizing of everything. But nothing has been super-sized more than sugary drinks."
The American Beverage Association, which has led the charge against the so-called soda ban issued a Monday statement that says, "Commissioner Farley's comments about sugar-sweetened beverages are more spin than substance. The truth is that, for a decade, there has been a steady decline in consumption of sugar and regular soda. While the rate of diagnosed diabetes in New York City and across the U.S. has increased, consumption of full-calorie soda has declined 12.5 percent from 1999 to 2010."
The ABA filed its brief opposing the city's appeal on Wednesday. The city plans to file its response in the coming weeks.