Diabetes is a potentially dangerous condition that is characterized by elevated levels of glucose in the blood.

Certain risk factors may increase a person’s chance of developing diabetes. A family history of diabetes, being over the age of forty-five, obesity, polycystic ovary disease, high cholesterol, and leading a sedentary life are factors that increase the risk of diabetes.

The following article aims to provide statistics about diabetes, to spread awareness on the prevalence of this common condition in the United States and for those who are vulnerable.

Overall Numbers

  • It is estimated that over twenty million Americans have diabetes. That is roughly 7% of the population.
  • Diabetes is caused by the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the body not responding normally to insulin. There are three types of diabetes.

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Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas fails to produce the necessary amount of insulin. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes because the condition of the pancreas not producing insulin is often present at birth.

  • Some 1.6 million Americans are living with type 1 diabetes. This includes about 200,000 youth (under 20 years of age) and more than 1 million adults (20+ years of age).
  • 64,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
  • 5 million people in the U.S. are expected to have type 1 diabetes by the year 2050 (including nearly 600,000 youth).
  • Between 2001-2009, there was a 2% increase in the type 1 diabetes for people under age 20.
  • Less than 1/3 of people with type 1 diabetes in the U.S. are consistently achieving target blood-glucose control levels.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the muscles, fat, and liver cells failing to respond normally to the insulin that is produced. Type 2 diabetes has been known as adult onset diabetes with adults over the age of forty-five at the highest risk. However, there has been an increase in the number of young adults developing type 2 diabetes.

  • According to the CDC, 90 to 95 percent (over 30 million) of people with diabetes in the United States have type 2.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman develops abnormally high blood sugar levels. This condition is usually resolved after the birth of the baby.
  • Pre-diabetes is a precursor to diabetes in which the patient has abnormally high blood sugar levels that are not high enough for a diagnosis of the condition. It affects up to forty million Americans and quite possibly more.
  • Certain risk factors may increase a person’s chance of developing diabetes. A family history of diabetes, being over the age of forty-five, obesity, polycystic ovary disease, high cholesterol, and leading a sedentary life are factors that increase the risk of diabetes.
  • Some experts believe that seven million or 2% have diabetes and have never been diagnosed or treated for the condition.
  • Diabetes is slightly more common in men than women.
  • Almost 12% of men over the age of twenty have diabetes.
  • About 10% of women over the age of twenty have diabetes.
  • Statistics show that people who are over the age of 45 are at the greatest risk for developing diabetes, but there is an increase in cases of diabetes in young adults.

Diabetes by race/ethnicity

Other than white people, some races have a higher incidence of diabetes. There is an increased risk among Asian Americans, African-Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and Native Alaskans.

The rates of diagnosed diabetes in adults by race/ethnic background are:

  • 7.5% of non-Hispanic whites
  • 9.2% of Asian Americans
  • 12.5% of Hispanics
  • 11.7% of non-Hispanic blacks
  • 14.7% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives

Diabetes Side Effects

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure.
  • Diabetes also damages the blood vessels which can make wounds take a long time to heal. If a wound goes undetected and becomes severely infected, the diabetic patient may develop gangrene which can make amputation of the toe, foot, or leg necessary.
  • This is why foot care is extremely important for people with diabetes. Sores on the feet may fail to heal and become infected. Many times, sores on the feet go unnoticed by the diabetic person because nerve damage has impaired their ability to feel the pain of an injury.
  • Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes. Up to 7% of people with diabetes have some nerve damage.
  • Due to nerve and blood vessel damage from diabetes, some diabetic patients develop wounds on the feet that will not heal properly. In some cases, these become infected or even become gangrene.
  • Over half of the amputations performed in the United States are caused by diabetes complications. Out of every one thousand people with diabetes, almost six amputations of the toe, foot, or leg are necessary. These lower extremity amputations are more common in men than women. 50% of amputations in the United States are due to diabetes.


  • In 2017, the seventh leading cause of death in the US based on death certificates listed diabetes as an underlying issue.
  • It’s possible that diabetes is under reported as a cause of death.  Studies have found that about 35-40% of people with diabetes who have died, had diabetes listed anywhere on the death certificate and about 10-15% had it listed as the underlying cause of death.


  • The annual medical cost of diabetes in the United States is $237 billion.
  • Therefore the total cost of diabetes in the United States is estimated at $237 billion a year.
  • People with diabetes spend 2.3 times the amount of money in medical costs than people without diabetes.
  • People with diagnosed diabetes incur average medical expenditures of $16,750 per year, of which $9,600 is attributed to diabetes.
  • In the U.S., there are $16 billion in type 1 diabetes-associated healthcare expenditures and lost income annually.

Diabetes can be managed with a diabetic diet, exercise, and with prescription medication. Some experts also suggest reducing stress and using stress management techniques as part of diabetes management.