Thursday Roundup: Diabetes Belt and HBO’s ‘Rural Drama’

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The map above shows what medical researchers are calling the “diabetes belt.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found wide disparities in diabetes rates within states. And the 18 million people in the country diagnosed with diabetes are concentrated in a band of counties reaching from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma and Texas.

State levels are misleading. For example, Colorado has a relatively low diabetes rate of 7.1% of the population. But rural Pitkin County’s rate is 4.5% and rural Crowley County’s rate is 14.1%.

 The CDC lists 644 counties in the diabetes belt. These are counties where there are high rates of obesity (32.9% versus 26.1% nationally) and sedentary lifestyles (30.6% in these counties compared to 24.8% nationally). Education levels are lower (24.1% with college degrees versus 34.3% nationally) and the African American population is larger (23.8% versus 8.6%).

Scientific American reports: 

The 15 states that have counties in the diabetes belt are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Belt counties, however, are unevenly distributed among those states on the list, ranging from a few in Ohio and Texas to the majority of Alabama’s counties—and every one in Mississippi.

In the map above, the dark red counties have diabetes rates above the median for the nation. The orange counties are at about the median. And the light-colored counties are below the national median.

• The more you eat out, the less healthy your diet, concludes a new report from the Economic Research Service. Those people who dine out, “consume more calories per eating occasion, as well as higher amounts of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and lower amounts of dietary fiber, calcium, and iron on a per calorie basis, than when eating food prepared at home,” the ERS reports. 

Would it help if people knew the number of calories contained in the foods they order at restaurants? Well, the evidence is mixed.

After New York City began requiring restaurants to post calorie counts for all menu items in 2008, New York University researchers compared receipts from low-income people eating at fast food restaurants in the City and in nearby Newark, where there was no requirement for menu labeling. 

People in New York said the calorie listings affected their choice, but when the receipts were compared, there was no difference in what people bought.

“Survey participants in New York City purchased about the same number of calories both before and after the labeling law took effect—and about the same amount as the Newark participants,” the ERS reported. Another study of Starbuck sales in New York found a slight decline in calories consumed.

• Rep. Louise Slaughter,  New York Democrat, said a bill aimed at removing federal funds from National Public Radio was a “political stunt” that would put “rural communities at a major disadvantage in the information age.”

The Washington Post reported: “In many cases, public stations in rural and minority communities receive a higher percentage of their funds from the CPB.”

Thursday morning, the House voted to go ahead with defunding NPR. The only Democrat to vote for the measure was Rep. Heath Shuler from Western North Carolina.

• The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that livestock owners don’t need to obtain a permit under the Clean Water Act until they discharge manure into a U.S. waterway.

The National Pork Producers Council and others had sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its rules regulating CAFOs, confined animal feeding operations. 

• The Democratic Party has asked Duke Energy Corp. for a $10 million line of credit for its 2012 convention, to be held in Charlotte, the Center for Public Integrity reports. Duke Energy is the nation’s third largest coal-burning utility.

“Many Democrats and the Obama administration have vilified coal, urging a move toward cleaner energy,” writes Kristen Lombardi. “Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed stricter controls on mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants burning coal, one of many rules proposed by the agency that take aim at coal pollution.”

Republicans have charged that Democrats are waging a “war on coal.”

• We see that Philip Seymour Hoffman is developing a “rural drama” for HBO. 

The show is called Upstate. The story “centers on recently laid-off Roy Perkins, who relocates his family to rural America to become a correctional officer in a new private prison run for profit. “As the town and his family prosper, Roy encounters conflict and danger inside and outside the prison walls,” according to the logline.

 

 

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