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Diabetes Dateline
Fall 2011

Number of Americans with Diabetes Rises to Nearly 26 Million

Graphic of a thick red upward trending arrow on a three-dimensional line graph.

More Than One-Third of U.S. Adults Estimated to Have Prediabetes

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Diabetes affects 8.3 percent of Americans of all ages and 11.3 percent of adults ages 20 and older. About 27 percent of those with diabetes—7 million Americans—do not know they have the disease.

In addition, more than one-third of U.S. adults ages 20 and older—an estimated 79 million adults—have prediabetes. Prediabetes raises a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from complications such as heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, blindness, and amputations of feet and legs. Diabetes costs $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses.

“These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes manage the disease to prevent serious complications such as kidney failure and blindness,” said Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D., director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “We know that a structured lifestyle program that includes losing weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.”

Reasons for Rising Numbers

In 2008, the 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, also called glycated hemoglobin or A1C, is now used as a diagnostic test and was therefore incorporated into calculations of national prevalence for the first time. The A1C test reflects blood glucose levels over the previous 3 months. Because of this change, the 2011 estimates of populations with diabetes and prediabetes are not directly comparable with 2008 and earlier estimates.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, having a family history of diabetes, having a history of gestational diabetes, having a sedentary lifestyle, and belonging to certain racial or ethnic groups.

The updated statistics from the CDC are included in the NIDDK fact sheet National Diabetes Statistics, 2011, available at www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics. The NIDDK has easy-to-read booklets and fact sheets about diabetes. For more information or to obtain copies, visit www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov.

Number of Americans with Diabetes May Double or Triple by 2050

As many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to a new analysis from the CDC.

One in 10 U.S. adults now has diabetes. The prevalence is expected to rise sharply over the next 40 years due to an aging population more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, population increases in minority groups that are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, and people with diabetes living longer, according to CDC projections published in the journal Population Health Metrics. Because the study factored in aging, minority populations, and life span, the projections are higher than previous estimates.

The report predicts that the number of new diabetes cases each year will increase from eight per 1,000 people in 2008, to 15 per 1,000 in 2050.

To read the full report, visit www.pophealthmetrics.com/content/8/1/29. Exit Disclaimer image For information about diabetes, visit www.cdc.gov/diabetes, www.yourdiabetesinfo.org, and www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov.

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NIH Publication No. 12–4562
December 2011

Page last updated: December 19, 2011


The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

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