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Diabetes Statistics

Nov 30, 2008
Looking for vital diabetes facts and figures? Here are statistics for both patients and consumers.

General diabetes statistics

Diabetes affects an estimated 25.8 million people in the U.S. (90 to 95 percent have type 2 diabetes)--18.8 million have been diagnosed, but 7 million are unaware they have the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association and the CDC, those affected include:

  • 12.6 million U.S. women (10.8 percent of all women age 20 or older)

  • 13 million U.S. men (11.8 percent of all men age 20 or older)

  • 215,000 people younger than age 20

  • 10.9 million adults older than age 65

  • 4.9 million non-Hispanic African-Americans (18.7 percent of all African-Americans age 20 or older)

  • 15.7 million white Americans (10.2 percent of all white Americans age 20 or older)

According to the most recent statistics, diabetes was the leading cause of preventable blindness and the fifth leading cause of death from disease in the United States. Diabetes costs over $116 billion annually in direct medical costs. Diabetes costs $58 billion annually in indirect costs (loss of work, disability, loss of life).

Diabetes prevalence by race

Certain ethnic groups tend to be more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. Several risk factors contribute to this pattern, including the following:

  • Genetic background. Certain racial groups tend to share a common genetic factor that may affect their insulin secretion and insulin resistance. For example, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian-Americans, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders have a gene that makes them more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Impaired glucose tolerance, when blood glucose levels rise higher than normal after meals, may imply that the person is at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Gestational diabetes mellitus. Women who develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy may have a 50 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 20 years of the pregnancy. The prevalence of gestational diabetes is higher among certain groups.

  • Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. Hyperinsulinemia, or higher than normal levels of fasting insulin, may lead to diabetes. Certain ethnic groups tend to have higher insulin levels.

  • Obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Obesity is more prevalent in certain races.

Diabetes risk among African-Americans

African-Americans are two times more likely to develop diabetes than white Americans. Obesity tends to be one of the major risk factors for developing diabetes in African-Americans, especially African-American women. Other facts about African-Americans and diabetes include the following:

  • African-Americans also are more likely to suffer from higher incidences of diabetes complications and disability.

  • African-Americans are more likely to undergo lower-extremity amputations due to complications of diabetes than white Americans or Hispanic Americans.

  • African-Americans with diabetes experience kidney failure about four times more often than diabetic white Americans.

  • African-Americans have a 40 to 50 percent higher risk for developing diabetic retinopathy, partly because this population also has a higher rate of hypertension.

  • Gestational diabetes may be 50 to 80 percent more likely among pregnant African-American women than among pregnant white women.

Diabetes risk among Hispanic Americans

More than 10 percent of all Hispanic Americans (2 million) have diabetes. Hispanic Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Other facts about Hispanic Americans and diabetes include the following:

  • Diabetes is twice as common among Mexican-Americans and Puerto Rican Americans than among white Americans.

  • Obesity and physical inactivity are the main risk factors for diabetes among Hispanic Americans.

  • Although Hispanic Americans have higher rates of diabetic retinopathy and kidney disease, they have lower rates of heart disease from diabetes than white Americans.

Diabetes risk among American Indians and Alaska Natives

American Indians and Alaska Natives are more than twice as likely to develop diabetes as are white Americans. Other facts about American Indians and Alaska Natives and diabetes include the following:

  • According to the Office of Minority Health, approximately 14.2 percent of American Indian adults have type 2 diabetes, although rates vary considerably among different tribes.

  • Type 2 diabetes prevalence is increasing among children and adolescents of American Indian and Alaska Native ancestry.

  • Obesity is a major risk factor in the development of type 2 diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives. For example, the majority (95 percent) of Pima Indians with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

Diabetes risk among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders

Data concerning diabetes prevalence among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander Americans is limited. Some groups among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander Americans appear to be at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes compared with their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Other facts about Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander Americans and diabetes include the following:

  • Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander Americans between ages 45 and 64.

  • Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander Americans are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes compared with white Americans.

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