Nearly 24 Million Have Diabetes

CDC Reports a Steep Rise in Diabetes Patients in U.S.

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

June 24, 2008 — Nearly 24 million people in the U.S. have diabetes — including almost 6 million who don't know they're diabetic — and at least 57 million have prediabetes.

That's according to the CDC's latest diabetes statistics.

The figures show a steep rise in the number of people with diabetes — up by more than 3 million people in about two years, notes Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of the CDC's division of diabetes translation.

Here are the CDC's new diabetes data for 2007:

  • Number of people with diabetes: 23.6 million, or 7.8% of the population
  • Number of people with diagnosed diabetes: 17.9 million
  • Number of people with undiagnosed diabetes: 5.7 million
  • Number of new cases of diabetes diagnosed in adults aged 20 and older in 2007: About 1.6 million
  • Number of youths younger than 20 with diabetes: About 186,300

"It's very important that people understand how serious this disease is and that this growth in this epidemic is very, very concerning, particularly those new cases," Albright tells WebMD."We're hopeful that these data will shine a light and remind people that we must do more in diabetes prevention and control."

Diabetes is the No. 7 cause of death among U.S. adults. Diabetes also makes other serious conditions, including heart disease and stroke, more likely.

For instance, researchers reported last year that type 2 diabetes hastens heart disease and shortens lives by about eight years.

Why Diabetes Is Rising

Albright lists several reasons why diabetes is becoming more common in the U.S.

"Front and center is the rise in overweight and obesity. That is certainly a strong factor in the development of type 2 diabetes," the most common type of diabetes in adults, says Albright.

America's aging population is also a factor, since type 2 diabetes becomes more likely with age, notes Albright. About 23% of adults aged 60 and older have diabetes, according to the CDC's new diabetes statistics.

Also, ethnic groups that are the hardest hit by diabetes — African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asians/Pacific Islanders — have been growing. And people with diabetes, especially men, are living longer than in the past, Albright points out.

"We want to see the numbers go down for the right reasons," says Albright. "We don't want to see the numbers go down because people with diabetes are dying prematurely. ... We want to see them go down because we're having fewer new cases of diabetes. Once someone's developed the disease, we obviously need to be working to help them live long and successfully with the disease."

Albright also highlights the fact that people with diabetes are more likely to know that they're diabetic. The percentage of undiagnosed diabetes cases dropped from 30% to 25% over a two-year period.

"We're happy to report that there are more people who are aware that they have diabetes than in the past," says Albright.

SOURCES: CDC: "National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2007." Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director, division of diabetes translation, CDC. News release, CDC.

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