According to the latest reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of individuals in the United States suffering from diabetes is now approximately 29 million, which accounts for a staggering 12.3 percent of adults. Perhaps even more shocking is the number of adults in the U.S. who have blood sugar levels that are considered to be at pre-diabetic: 86 million. Stated another way, approximately one-third of the entire United States population is considered to be at pre-diabetic blood sugar levels.
Not only is the proliferation of diabetes a serious health concern, but it’s also financially draining. When accounting for both medical costs and lost wages, Americans spent $245 billion on the treatment of diabetes and related complications in 2012. The figure in 2010 was $174 billion.
There are many reasons and conditions that can ultimately lead to an individual suffering from diabetes. However, for the majority of people, the prevention of diabetes might ultimately involve some relatively simple lifestyle changes and modifications.
Where Will the Population Be if the Trend Continues?
Federal health authorities have released some alarming statistics regarding the numbers of people who could end up with diabetes if the current trend persists. By 2025, predictions indicate that one in five people could suffer from the disease in the U.S. By 2050, the ratio could climb to a daunting one in three. A spokesperson from the CDC stated that the statistics were “alarming,” and she stressed the need for an “increased focus” on the problem. She went on to say that the American population “simply can’t sustain this trajectory.”
More Troubling Diabetes Statistics
The sheer number of people now diagnosed with diabetes was not the only concerning statistic in the latest CDC report. Apparently, around 25 percent of adults who have diabetes are unaware that they’re suffering from the condition. Also, while pre-diabetes is equally common among all ethnic and racial groups, the disease itself is twice as prevalent in Hispanics, African Americans, Alaskan Natives, and American Indians.
It’s fairly common knowledge that one of the biggest risk factors for diabetes is obesity. With the still-high number of children that suffer from obesity in America – the CDC states that around 17 percent of children are currently obese – it may come as no surprise that diabetes rates in children are following suit. The new CDC report states that over 200,000 children (including teenagers) are diabetic.
Effects of Diabetes
So why are these diabetes statistics so bad? If you’re unfamiliar with the possible negative effects of the disease, here are some of the health complications for which diabetics have a higher risk, according to the CDC:
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Vision loss
- Toe, foot or leg amputation
- Premature death
How Can the Trend Be Stopped?
These statistics are scary, but they don’t detract from the fact that diabetes is often a preventable disease. In general, diabetes is a condition that involves abnormally high glucose levels in the blood due to a body’s inability to produce or use insulin. Type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs in children, is often hereditary and can be difficult to predict or prevent. However, type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, usually shows up in older or middle-aged people who have a generally sedentary lifestyle. Some of the most common risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
- Being obese or overweight
- Physical inactivity
- Having a diet high in fat, calories, and/or sugar
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco use
It should be noted that heredity plays a part in type 2 diabetes as well – some people simply have a higher risk of getting the disease due to their family history and genetic makeup. However, consuming a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can still help these people avoid the disease.
Obesity Statistics: The Bottom Line
Again, the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes is being overweight. Curbing the current trend in the U.S. will likely come down to education and personal responsibility. It’s unclear at this time if plans are underway to ramp up educational initiatives for the prevention of diabetes. Ultimately, people in the U.S. will need to focus on eating well and maintaining some physical activity if they’re going to avoid the disease.
Read the official CDC press release here.