A New Diabetes Risk Factor: Foreclosure!

ForeclosureHelpThere’s a definite correlation between the rate of home foreclosures and the incidence of new cases of diabetes diagnosed among young to middle-aged adults, according to a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Researchers at the non-profit, non-partisan organization studied foreclosure rates by zip codes in 4 hard-hit states (AZ, CA, FL and NJ) from 2005 to 2009. They plotted foreclosures against a host of key health indicators. Foreclosure data were from RealtyTrac; the health indicators were derived from emergency room visit and hospital discharge data from centers in the counties tracked.

They found that for every 100 additional foreclosures in a given zip code, there was an alarming 8.1% increase in newly diagnosed diabetes among people aged 20-49 years.

There was also a 7.2% increase in ER visits for hypertension, and a 12% increase in visits and admits for anxiety and other psychosocial problems for every 100 foreclosures. ER departments in the counties studied have reported major increases in the number of attempted suicides that track closely with the housing crisis and the spread of economic uncertainty.

The NBER team noted that foreclosures were not correlated with any increase in cancer morbidity, which presumably is not as immediately responsive to psychosocial stress as are other conditions like hypertension and glucose dysregulation.

The age-specific clusters of the adverse health impacts suggest that the Great Recession is having its most harmful effects on younger people who are trying to set down roots and build families. Not surprisingly, there were racial disparities, with African-Americans and Hispanics being harder hit health-wise than for whites.

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