As the world’s largest urban regions continue to expand, a concomitant rise in non-communicable diseases, particularly type 2 diabetes, poses an increasingly ominous challenge to experts in the field of public health. Given that the majority of the world’s population (54%) resides in urban areas, a figure likely to reach two-thirds by 2050, this issue presents serious implications for medical practitioners as well as policymakers seeking to manage long-term healthcare costs while sustaining historic increases in life expectancy. To explore how these trends are continuing to affect the United States, a multiple regression analysis was conducted using data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through their initiative, 500 Cities: Local Data for Better Health
. The regression models revealed that larger cities reported significantly higher rates of type 2 diabetes even after controlling for variables that have been perennially linked to disease onset (e.g., levels of obesity, sedentary behavior). Implications are discussed, most notably the argument for moving beyond the ‘food desert’ paradigm when identifying and explaining which characteristics of larger cities place their residents at increased risk. This approach could help reveal opportunities for intervention that may not have garnered sufficient attention in the extant literature.
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