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Disease still prevalent despite ebbing diagnoses


Even though the number of new diagnoses each year is trending down, diabetes is still a prevalent chronic disease in the United States.

(To view the full Diabetes Report, click here.)

Most areas in the United States have more than a 10% prevalence of diabetes diagnoses. Therefore, at least one person out of every 10 who should be tracking their blood glucose on a regular basis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest diabetes count is 22 million Americans who carry a diabetes diagnosis, and another 7 million who have diabetes but don’t know it.

If left unchecked, one person out of every three will be diabetic by the time millennials collect Social Security.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 95% of those diagnosed cases of diabetes, which leaves Type 1 diabetes accounting for about 5% of the total population. The CDC projects more than 20% of total healthcare spending, or as much as $600 billion per year of the total $3 trillion healthcare burden, is being paid to treat people with diagnosed diabetes.

Those population estimates don’t even include the population most at risk for developing diabetes, prediabetics or patients who have elevated blood-sugar levels that are high but not high enough to justify a full-blown diabetes diagnoses. There are 9 million Americans who are currently treating prediabetes and another 80 million who would be if they only knew.

Nationally, total diabetes prevalence (not including prediabetes) rose by 40% from 1999 to 2012, the American Diabetes Association noted, from 10.2% to 14.3% of the population.

Diabetes prevalence is higher among men than women. Diagnosed diabetes was only slightly higher among men than among women (10.6% versus 9.9%), but undiagnosed diabetes was substantially higher (5% among men versus 3.2% among women).

And diabetes awareness varies widely. Defined as the proportion of adults ages 20 years or older with a previous diabetes diagnosis and/or high A1C with a diagnosis, awareness of the disease-state increased 12% from 1999 to 2012, from 63.9% to 71.6% of the population.

However, during that same period, diabetes control rose only slightly, by 1.5%, the ADA noted.

There is good news. While 37% of the U.S. population today is either diabetic or prediabetic, the number of new diagnoses each year is trending down. In 2009, there were 1.7 million new diabetes diagnoses annually. In 2014, there were 1.4 million, according to the CDC.

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