ATLANTA — Incidence and prevalence of diabetes in the United States doubled from 1990-2008, but new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests a leveling off between 2008 and 2012 for adults with the exception of an increased incidence or prevalence in population subgroups.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed 1980-2012 data from the National Health Interview Survey. The analyzed data involved 664,969 adults ages 20 to 79 years old. Researchers used the data to discern the annual percentage change in rates of prevalence and incidence of diagnosed diabetes, including type 1 and type 2.

 The age-adjusted trends in prevalence and incidence of diagnosed diabetes of the population were similar during 1980-2012. Prevalence increased by 4.5% and incidence increased by 4.7% during 1990-2008. Both incidence and prevalence hit a plateau during 2008-2012. During the plateau, prevalence was up by 0.6% and incidence was down by 5.4%.

“The doubling of the prevalence and incidence of diagnosed diabetes during 1990-2008 has been attributed to multiple factors, including aging of the population, improved survival rates, growth of minority populations at increased risk, and increased risk factors such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle,” the study said.

Recent research suggests the potential leveling off of increasing diabetes rates may be attributed to the slowing rate of increase in obesity, as obesity is a known contributing factor to type 2 diabetes. The slowed rate of obesity appears to be in agreement with reduction in caloric intake, food purchases, and energy intake.

Although the rates leveled off in many groups of the population, the incidence in Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adults increased and the prevalence continued to rise in those with a high school education or less.

“This threatens to exacerbate racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in diabetes prevalence and incidence,” the study said. “Furthermore, in light of the well-known excess risk of amputation, blindness, end-stage renal disease, disability, mortality, and health care costs associated with diabetes, the doubling of diabetes incidence and prevalence ensures that diabetes will remain a major public health problem that demands effective prevention and management programs.”

The study points out that diabetes rates include many factors such as the changing diagnostic criteria of diabetes, but it’s unlikely that one factor alone is the driving cause.