Diabetes Projections

Number of Americans With Diabetes Projected to Double or Triple by 2050


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As many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, according to new data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This projection assumes that recent increases in new cases of diabetes will continue and people with diabetes will also live longer. The CDC report also predicts that the number of new diabetes cases each year will increase from 8 per 1000 people in 2008 to 15 per 1000 in 2050.

One in 10 U.S. adults currently has diabetes. The prevalence is expected to rise sharply over the next 40 years due to an aging population more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, increases in minority groups that are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, and an increase in the lifespan of people with existing diabetes. Because the study—published in Population Health Metrics—factored in aging, minority populations, and lifespan, the projections are higher than previous estimates.

Proper diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and help to control the condition in people who already have it. Effective prevention programs directed at groups at high risk of type 2 diabetes can considerably reduce future increases in diabetes prevalence, but will not eliminate them, the report says.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history, having diabetes while pregnant, a sedentary lifestyle, and race/ethnicity. Groups at higher risk for the disease are African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2007, and is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults younger than age 75, kidney failure, and non-accident/injury leg and foot amputations among adults. People with diagnosed diabetes have medical costs that are more than twice that of those without the disease. The total costs of diabetes are an estimated $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical costs. About 24 million Americans have diabetes, and one-quarter of them do not know they have it.

Published on November 30, 2010

Source: Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Gregg EW, Barker LE, Williamson DF. Projection of the year 2050 burden of diabetes in the US adult population: dynamic modeling of incidence, mortality, and prediabetes prevalence. Popul Health Metr. 2010;8:29.