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Discover Surprising Statistics About Diabetes in America

By: Jolie Wiener
March 5, 2020

The prevalence of diabetes is staggering. Diabetes is now one of the fasting-growing diseases in America and around the globe. 

The Center for Disease Control indicates that the number of Americans living with diabetes is now over 30 million, or 9.4% of the entire U.S. population. Of that, about 95% have been diagnosed with Type 2. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5% of all diagnosed cases, affecting approximately 1.5 million people in the United States. Additionally, approximately 7.2 million people have diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed.


Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes: What’s the Difference?

Those with type 1 diabetes don’t have the ability to produce insulin because the body destroys the pancreas cells responsible for secreting insulin, a hormone your body vitally needs to use glucose for energy. 

When the body is unable to process glucose from food, glucose is unable to make its way into cells, leaving too much in the bloodstream. High blood glucose levels can have many negative side effectsincluding swings in energy, mood, hunger, and excessive thirst. 

Type 1 diabetes was previously known as juvenile diabetes because many are born with the disease or develop it in their youth. Often, genetics plays a strong role in Type 1 diagnosis. Family history is thought to be an important factor as several genes have been linked to the condition and most are diagnosed before the age of 30. Race may also be a factor, diabetes being more common in Caucasians. 

In addition to the 1.5 million Americans are living with type 1 diabetes, an additional 40,00 people are diagnosed every year. 

While the symptoms and techniques to manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes are similar, there are very different conditions. Type 2 diabetics are insulin resistant. The body’s cells simply can’t respond to insulin as they should. If the body doesn’t efficiently use insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. 

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes. In general, a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, genetics, extra weight, and stress are the largest contributing factors.

Genes may play a role as well, and some research indicates certain ethnic groups including African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Hispanic Americans, and Pacific Islanders have a higher likelihood of developing the disease. 

Previously, adults 45 and plus were most likely to develop the disease. New research from the Mayo Clinic suggests the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases as you age, and the risk dramatically goes up after age 45. These days more and more young adults and teenagers are being diagnosed.  


The Vital Importance of Managing Diabetes 

Unfortunately, diabetes can be a deadly disease if not properly managed. Paying close attention to sugar levels, symptoms and daily lifestyle choices is vital. The WHO estimates in 2016 about 1.6 million deaths were directly the result of diabetes, with another 2.2 million deaths being attributed to high blood glucose levels. 

In 2017, the CDC estimates diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. 

Both globally and in the US, not only is the number of diabetes diagnoses rising, so is the cost of managing the disease. The average medical expenditure of those with diabetes is about 2.3x higher than those without it. The average yearly expenditure is estimated at over $8,000 per year!

Fortunately, there are ways to keep costs down, especially for those with type 2. Those with type 1 diabetes must have insulin delivered by injection or a pump to manage the disease, while people with type 2 can help stabilize sugar levels by eating healthy, performing regular physical activity, losing excess weight, and taking medications. Many prescriptions such as metformin and insulin injections are known to be effective, but are sometimes costly and can cause numerous negative side effects. 

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