Statistics And Trends – You Have Plenty Of Company

People with diabetes need to realize that they are not alone. In fact it is estimated that there are approximately 25.8 million people in the United States that currently have diabetes. This is 8.3 percent of the total population and includes 18.8 million diagnosed diabetics and about 7 million people of all ages of people that have diabetes but are undiagnosed. 1 Individuals with prediabetes, which may be an indicator of the development of diabetes, are not included in that number.

This statistical information is not radically different than what has been found in other areas of the world. In a ten year study in Canada it was found that the prevalence of diabetes, adjusted for age and sex, had increased up to 69% in all age groups, with the highest increase noted in those fifty years or older at the onset of the study. The same trend in increased occurrence was also noted in younger children. The yearly incidence rate increased from 6.6 per 1000 to up to 8.2 per 1000 between 1997 and 2003. The good news from the study was the mortality rates from diabetes actually declined by 25% over the duration of the study. 2

Type 1 diabetes has also seen similar trends in increased diagnosis rates and occurrences within the population. In a European study of children under the age of 15 it was determined in 20 different registrations in 17 countries that the rate of increase of incidence was between 0.6 and 9.3% with an average of 3.9%. 3 The study further reported that based on this increase it is estimated that the prevalence of diabetes in those under the age of 15 will increase from 94,000 cases in 2005 to almost double at 160,000 in 2020.

Gender Differences

Gender differences between men and women and boys and girls diagnosed with diabetes are present in all age groups. Males in all groups tend to have a lower incidence and diagnosis rate compared to women of the same age. However, according to longitudinal studies, the all-cause mortality rate for men with diabetes has decreased, while the all-cause mortality rate for women with diabetes has more than doubled over that of same age females that do not have a diagnosis of diabetes.

In studies that focused in on the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes instead of all types of diabetes the results where different. In a study of patients between the ages of 15 and 34 years in Sweden it was found in the medical records from 1983-2002 that men had a higher rate of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at16.4 per 100,000 patients with women at 12.7 per 100,000. In addition it was found that the rate of diagnosis of type 1 diabetes decreased by 1 percent per year. 4

Diabetes and Ethnicity

Like gender there is clear evidence that ethnicity is a major factor in the risk for developing diabetes as well as mortality due to diabetes. In various studies different ethnic groups such as Asian Americans and Non-Hispanic blacks tended to report higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes compared to Non-Hispanic whites in the same age groups. Interestingly in some of these studies specific mention was made of the fact that the ethnic groups that were other than Non-Hispanic whites, particularly the Asian Americans, tended to have lower BMI (Body Mass Index), which is one of the leading risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes. 5 However, despite the low BMI the rates of diagnosis of diabetes was actually higher than the white population.

African Americans, particularly those reporting as Non-Hispanic, have a much higher rate of diabetes. It is estimated that up to 18.7% of all individuals in this ethnic group over the age of 20 have diabetes either diagnosed or undiagnosed.

Diabetes and Age

The trend of increasing risk of developing type 2 diabetes with advancing age continues to be a concern for medical professionals and researchers. Estimates indicate that the number of people living with diabetes over the age of 65 is almost double the number living with diabetes between the ages of 45 to 64. The factors that contribute to this can include a more sedentary lifestyle, increased risk of obesity, higher BMI and specific dietary and genetic factors.

Diabetes and Obesity

As more individuals in society are becoming overweight and obese the rate of diabetes increases. In fact in some research they are listed as dual epidemics, seen as occurring hand in hand. This is not a condition noted just in the United States; it is a worldwide problem in developed and developing countries. Combined with the growing obesity rates is the decrease in physical activity and labor, leading to weight gain in all sectors of the population. Increased BMI is seen as a key risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes In The Future

The increase in the prevalence of diabetes is anticipated to escalate rather than decline over the next generation. In a study that estimated the average lifetime risk factors for babies born in 2000 to develop diabetes in their lifetime several key trends emerged. Men were slightly less likely to be diagnosed than women, 32.8% to 38.5% and Hispanic males and females had the highest risks at 45.4 and 52.5% respectively. 6

Trends in the diagnosis of diabetes are being addressed through a variety of programs. These include nutrition education for children, increased emphasis on healthy eating, physical activity and lifestyle choices and more patient education provided at regular check-ups and annual doctor’s visits. This is not universally implemented and the results of this type of patient education are sporadic and highly dependent on the doctor or medical health professional.

Understanding the trends in society that contribute to the increase in the prevalence of diabetes is important. Knowing how to address these trends to create healthier foods, more active lifestyles and a greater understanding of the risk of diabetes and prediabetes in the general population is seen as essential.


1 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet. (n.d.). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

2 Lipscombe, L., & Hux, J. E. (2007). Trends in diabetes prevalence, incidence, and mortality in Ontario, Canada 1995–2005: a population-based study. The Lancet , 750-756.

3 Patterson, C. C., Dahlquist, G. G., Gyurus, E., et al. (2009). Incidence trends for childhood type 1 diabetes in Europe during 1989–2003 and predicted new cases 2005–20: a multicentre prospective registration study. The Lancet , 13-19.

4 Ostman, J., Lonnberg, G., Arnqvist, H. J., et al. (2008). Gender differences and temporal variation in the incidence of type 1 diabetes: results of 8012 cases in the nationwide Diabetes Incidence Study in Sweden 1983–2002. Journal of Internal Medicine , 386-394.

5 Lee, J. W., Brancati, F. L., & Yeh, H.-C. (2011). Trends in the Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes in Asians Versus Whites. Diabetes Care , 353-357.

6 Vencat Narayan, K. M., Boyle, J. P., Thompson, T. J., et al. (2003). Lifetime Risk for Diabetes Mellitus in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association , 1884-1890.

This article was originally published July 12, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/10/2015.