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Number of Americans with Diabetes Rises to Nearly 26 Million

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition, an estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.   Prediabetes raises a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance <a href>http://www.criticalillnessinsuranceinfo.org</a>.

Diabetes affects 8.3 percent of Americans of all ages, and 11.3 percent of adults aged 20 and older, according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. About 27 percent of those with diabetes—7 million Americans—do not know they have the disease. 

Prediabetes affects 35 percent of adults aged 20 and older.  In 2008, CDC estimated that 23.6 million Americans, or 7.8 percent of the population, had diabetes and another 57 million adults had prediabetes. The 2011 estimates have increased for several reasons:

More people are developing diabetes.

Many people are living longer with diabetes, which raises the total number of those with the disease. Better management of the disease is improving cardiovascular disease risk factors and reducing complications such as kidney failure and amputations.

Hemoglobin A1c is now used as a diagnostic test, and was therefore incorporated into calculations of national prevalence for the first time. The test, also called glycated hemoglobin, measures levels of blood glucose (sugar) over a period of two to three months. Because of this change, estimates of populations with diabetes and prediabetes in the 2011 fact sheet are not directly comparable to estimates in previous fact sheets.

In a study published last year, CDC projected that as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue. Type 2 diabetes, in which the body gradually loses its ability to use and produce insulin, accounts for 90 percent to 95 percent of diabetes cases. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history, having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), a sedentary lifestyle, and race/ethnicity. Groups at higher risk for the disease are African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Half of Americans aged 65 and older have prediabetes, and nearly 27 percent have diabetes.  Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.  Diabetes costs $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses.

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