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How many Americans have diabetes?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 38.4 million people had diabetes in 2021 — 29.7 million people with diagnosed cases and an estimated 8.7 million undiagnosed — or 11.6% of the US population. The CDC estimates that 22.8% of adults with diabetes are undiagnosed, meaning they meet lab criteria for the disease but were not aware of it or did not report having diabetes.

Another 97.6 million adults, or 38.0% of the adult population, are estimated to have prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.

Who is most likely to be diagnosed with diabetes?

There are disparities in diabetes rates across racial and ethnic groups, income levels, and education levels. Diabetes diagnoses are more common among non-white US adults, as well as those with lower educational and income levels.

How have diabetes rates changed?

Diabetes rates have “significantly increased” since 2001, according to the CDC. In 2021, an estimated 11.6% of the US population had diabetes. Among US adults, diabetes rates increased from 10.3% in the 2001–2004 time period to 13.2% in the 2017–2020 period.

Diabetes by age

Diabetes prevalence increases with age. The 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report (NDSR) estimated that 29.2% of people 65 or older had either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. At that time, 18.9% of adults between 45 and 64 had diabetes, as did 4.8% of adults between 18 and 44.

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Diabetes by sex

Men and women have similar rates of diabetes: 14.2% for men and 12.4% for women in NDSR. Men had higher diagnosis rates: 11.6%, compared with 8.8% for women. Women with diabetes have increased rates of heart disease as well as a higher risk of diabetes-related complications like blindness, kidney disease, and depression.

Diabetes by race/ethnicity

During 2019–2021, 14.5% of American Indian or Alaska Native adults were diagnosed with diabetes. That’s higher than other racial and ethnic groups; the 2019–2021 National Health Interview Survey found diagnosis rates of 12.1% among non-Hispanic Black adults, 11.7% among Hispanic adults, 9.1% among non-Hispanic Asian adults, and 6.9% among non-Hispanic white adults.

Diabetes by education and income level

Diabetes is more prevalent among adults with lower educational levels and family income levels. In the same 2019–2021 survey, 13.1% of US adults who did not complete high school had been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with 9.1% who completed high school and 6.9% who had more than a high school education. Similarly, 13.1% of adults living below the federal poverty level had received a diabetes diagnosis, while the disease’s prevalence decreased in higher-income groups.

What is diabetes, and how are type 1 and type 2 diabetes different?

Insulin is a vital hormone for processing blood sugar to either provide energy or store it for later. Diabetes is a chronic health condition that impacts insulin production and changes the body’s ability to regulate sugars in the bloodstream. The primary types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

With type 1 diabetes, the body produces little to no insulin. The CDC estimates that 5% to 10% of people with diabetes have type 1. It is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction, and there are no known ways to prevent it. Treatment for type 1 diabetes entails monitoring blood sugar levels and taking insulin.

With type 2 diabetes, cells in the body develop a resistance to insulin over many years, reducing the insulin’s effectiveness and making it harder to regulate blood sugar levels. Type 2 diagnoses account for 90% to 95% of all people with diabetes. It can be prevented or delayed with diet, exercise, and weight loss; the CDC says physical activity is a “cornerstone of diabetes management” because it makes the body more sensitive to insulin.

Gestational diabetes is a unique form of the disease developed by women who are pregnant. Gestational diabetes can be managed by monitoring blood sugar levels, eating healthfully, and being active, and it usually disappears after birth. Women who experience gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, as do their babies.

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