January 27, 2011

Almost 26 Million Americans Have Diabetes

The number of diabetics in the United States has grown to almost 26 million, an increase of 10 percent since 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whom expressed concern about the negative trend.

In addition, nearly 79 million US adults have prediabetes -- a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes raises a person's risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The CDC said that 35 percent of adults 20 and older in the US fall into the pre-diabetic category.

Diabetes affects 8.3 percent of Americans of all ages, and 11.3 percent of adults aged 20 and older, according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. About 27 percent of those with diabetes -- 7 million Americans -- do not know they have the disease.

"These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes," Ann Albright, director of the CDC's diabetes translation division, said in a statement.

"We know that a structured lifestyle program that includes losing weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes," Albright added.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases. The condition arises when the body gradually loses its ability to produce and use insulin to regulate sugar levels in the blood.

The CDC warned last year that one in three American adults could be diabetic by 2050 if the current trends do not change.

Risk factors for adult diabetes include aging, obesity, heredity, being diabetic during pregnancy, sedentary living, and race or ethnicity. Black Americans, Hispanics, Amerindians, indigenous Alaskans and Pacific islanders are the most predisposed to adult diabetes.

The CDC is working on the National Diabetes Prevention Program, as stated in the Affordable Care Act. This program, based on the NIH-led Diabetes Prevention Program research study, is aimed at helping people reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

The National Diabetes Fact Sheet estimates are drawn up from a variety of sources, including CDC surveys, the Indian Health Service National Patient Information Reporting System, the U.S. Renal Data System of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Census Bureau, and published studies.

It was prepared in collaboration with a number of agencies within the US Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the American Diabetes Association, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

Currently, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. People with diabetes are more likely to suffer from complications such as heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, kidney failure, blindness and amputations of limbs.

The annual cost of diabetes is $174 billion, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses.


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