Diabetes Facts

Learning More About Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the United States, affecting an estimated 29 million Americans (9.3 percent of the population) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in four people who have diabetes are not diagnosed with the disease. And beyond this staggering number, an additional 86 million people–1 in 3 Americans–have prediabetes, a condition marked by higher than normal blood sugar that is often a precursor to diabetes. Read on to get the facts you need to know about type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Facts

1. Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. However, the disease may be under reported as a cause of death. According to the American Diabetes Association, only about 10 to 15 percent of people with diabetes have it listed as a cause of death even when complications of the disease are present. Often, the cause of death is listed as kidney failure or heart disease, two complications caused by diabetes.

2. The World Health Diabetes has categorized type 2 diabetes as a global epidemic. That’s because the prevalence of the disease has increased so quickly in recent years, a phenomenon that is closely related to the prevalence of obesity and lack of exercise.

3. Diabetes can lead to serious complications. Left untreated, the uncontrolled blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can cause heart
attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower limb amputations.

4. However, many of these complications are avoidable. People who have diabetes can manage the disease under the guidance of a physician with lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and plenty of physical activity.

5. The diabetes epidemic comes at an incredible cost to the health system. According to the CDC, diabetes and related complications accounted for $245 billion in total medical costs and lost work and wages in 2012, an increase from just $174 billion in 2007.

6. Deaths from diabetes and its complications are projected to increase by 50 percent over the next ten years by the World Health Organization. This increase will likely be most pronounced among upper income communities.

7. Diabetes is most prevalent among seniors. More than a quarter of American adults older than age 65 have the disease, including to data from the American Diabetes Association.

8. Prediabetes can often be reversed. Many people with prediabetes are able to lower their blood sugar and avoid developing diabetes with lifestyle changes alone. However, 9 in 10 people with prediabetes are not aware that they have high blood sugar. Without lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity and losing weight, up to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes within five years.

9. Type 2 diabetes was once rare among children and adolescents. However, because of the increased prevalence of obesity in those younger than age 20, the World Health Organization estimates that up to half of new diabetes cases are in this age group.

If you are concerned about your diabetes risk, talk with your doctor. He or she can recommend steps you can take to improve your health.