The Center for Disease Control, or CDC, releases a report on diabetes periodically. The most recent report was released in May 2022 that reviewed data from 2019. This report discusses the incidence and prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes, prevention efforts for type 2 diabetes, and management of diabetes mellitus. For the first time, the CDC report also contains data on diabetes by income level and suggests a higher prevalence of diabetes in poverty.
To get a clear picture of just how prevalent this disease is, it’s important to take a closer look at the statistics. In the United States today, the (CDC) estimates that 130 million adults have either diabetes or prediabetes. 28.7 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, 8.5 million have undiagnosed diabetes, and 38% of the United States population has prediabetes. In 2019, about 1.4 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people over 18 years of age.
Which Groups are at Highest Risk for Diabetes?
Knowing the risk factors for diabetes can be helpful in prevention. The highest percentages of diabetes are found in these groups:
American Indians and Alaska Natives (14.5%)
Non-Hispanic Black people (12.1%)
People of Hispanic origin (11.8%)
Non-Hispanic Asian people (9.5%)
Non-Hispanic White people (7.4%)
Additionally, adults with a family income that falls under the federal poverty level have the highest prevalence of diabetes in both men and women. Those with lower education levels are also more likely to have diabetes as a diagnosis.
How Common is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes means that blood sugar is higher than normal; however, not yet high enough to be considered diabetes. Prediabetes affected 96 million adults in the US in 2019, with a higher percentage being men than women. For people with prediabetes, losing weight by eating a healthier diet and increasing physical activity can cut the risk of developing diabetes in half. The report also indicates that 48.8% of adults over the age of 65 have prediabetes. However, the prevalence of prediabetes was similar for all racial and ethnic groups and education levels.
Only 19% of adults with prediabetes reported being informed by a health care professional about their condition. It is important to ask questions about your test results and to clarify with your doctor or nurse if you don’t understand what your diagnosis means for your health and lifestyle.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
The following factors make you most at risk for type 2 diabetes:
Having a family history of diabetes
Having low physical activity levels
Being over the age of 45
Though age and family history put a person at higher risk for diabetes, controlling weight and increasing physical activity and diet quality are controllable lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk.
The Cost of Diabetes
In 2017, the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in the US was $327 billion. This includes both direct costs (medical costs) and indirect costs, which include lost productivity from work, reduced productivity at work and home, unemployment from disability, and early death. Total direct estimated costs of diabetes increased from $188 billion in 2012 to $237 billion in 2017.
Complications and Other Conditions Associated with Diabetes
Many complications can be minimized by keeping diabetes under control. However, any type of diabetes carries an additional risk of complications. Complications highlighted in the CDC report include:
Data from the CDC report indicates that 39.2% of adults with diagnosed diabetes had chronic kidney disease (stages 1-4). 15.7% of these adults had moderate to severe CKD (stage 3 or 4). 23.1% of Black adults and 17.2% of non-Hispanic White adults had moderate to severe CKD (stage 3 or 4).
Heart issues associated with diabetes include heart disease and stroke. Of the 8.25 million hospitalizations for diabetes in 2018, 1.87 million were also for major cardiovascular diseases such as ischemic heart disease and stroke.
High blood sugars over time can cause damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eyes. This damage can cause diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts. In adults aged 18-64 years, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. Data from 2019 suggests that 11.8% of adults with diabetes report severe vision problems or blindness.
Of the total hospital discharges in 2018, 8.25 million discharges had diabetes as a listed diagnosis for adults 18 years of age or older. In addition to the diagnosis of diabetes, discharges included major diseases including heart disease and stroke, amputations, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 40% of US adults who died from COVID-19 also had the underlying diagnosis of diabetes.
How to Control Diabetes
There is no one best way to manage diabetes. Management of diabetes almost always includes exercise, diet monitoring, and blood glucose checks. However, the prescribed treatment can vary. If you have prediabetes or diabetes, working with trained healthcare professionals is recommended to gain resources and tools to best preserve your health. Professionals may include endocrinologists, diabetes educators, and registered dietitians.
Managing prediabetes with diet, exercise, and sometimes weight loss is often possible. For type 1 diabetes, diet and exercise are also important. However, type 1 management nearly always includes treatment with insulin. People with type 2 diabetes often take oral medication for A1c management. However, it is also managed with diet, exercise, close blood sugar monitoring, and sometimes insulin.
The Numbers Have Real Consequences
High costs are associated with diabetes, including financial impacts, additional diagnoses, and complications. It’s important to clearly understand any risk factors you may have and how you can properly take care of yourself if this disease impacts your life. Speak with your doctor to learn more about managing your health.