How Many Americans Have Diabetes: Do You Know Someone with this Condition?

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About Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body uses sugar for energy. There are three main types: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes, however, these are not the only forms. There are a few different causes of diabetes, some of which are related to lifestyle.

In the United States, type 2 diabetes, specifically, has become a cause of serious medical and economic problems. It is difficult to discuss how many Americans have diabetes without breaking it down into categories that discuss the risk factors involved. These risk factors include age and race. These are non-modifiable risk factors; lifestyle and other modifiable risk factors will not be discussed here, for the purpose of statistical accuracy. Though this article will not discuss modifiable risk factors, it is worth noting that the epidemic of type 2 diabetes correlates with that of obesity.


25.8 million Americans have diabetes. That makes up approximately 8.3 percent of the entire U.S. population, as of 2011. Three-quarters of that number is confirmed, diagnosed cases of diabetes. Several government agencies have estimated 7 million cases, yet to be diagnosed. There were 1.9 million newly diagnosed cases of diabetes in 2010, alone. The same year, nearly 215,000 patients diagnosed were younger than 20 years old; this makes up 0.26 percent of what should constitute a healthy population.


Age is a prominent risk factor, more for type 2 and gestational diabetes than type 1. The likelihood of developing diabetes after the age of 45 increases drastically. In 2011, an estimated 13.7 percent of U.S. patients aged 45 to 64 suffered from diabetes, whether diagnosed or not. For patients older than 65, that figure nearly doubles to 26.9 percent or 10.9 million people. Individuals 20 years or older make up 25.6 million diabetes patients; this makes up 11.3 percent of the entire population in that age group.


Not particularly a risk factor, but it is worth mentioning that diabetes is distributed fairly evenly throughout the population in relation to gender. In 2010, an estimated 13 million men, or 11.8 percent, 20 years or older suffered from diabetes. In women, that figure is only slightly lower at 12.6 million, or 10.8 percent.


Race is another important risk factor for diabetes. In the U.S., minority races are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Contrarily, non-Hispanic whites are at higher risk for type 1 diabetes. A national survey taken between 2007 and 2009 shows patients diagnosed with diabetes distributed through race and ethnicity have a higher prevalence in Asian Americans, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics than in non-Hispanic whites. The survey showed 7.1 percent of whites, 8.4 percent of Asian Americans, 12.6 percent of blacks and 11.8 percent of Hispanics aged 20 or older suffered from diabetes. This represents all types of diabetes.

In patients younger than 10, the prevalence of type 1 diabetes reaches about 25 cases in 100,000 non-Hispanic white children, about 18 in black children, about 17 in Hispanic and 7 in Asian/Pacific Islander Americans. There is little prevalence of type 2 diabetes in this group. Between 11 and 19 years old, the prevalence of type 1 diabetes decreases slightly in all ethnic groups. However, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes increases drastically in the minority ethnic groups, while only rising slightly in non-Hispanic whites.


American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Statistics

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: National Diabetes Statistics, 2011

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2011

Mayo Clinic: Type 2 Diabetes: Risk Factors

Mayo Clinic: Type 1 Diabetes: Risk Factors