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Diabetes is Common, Disabling, Deadly, and On the Rise

Early detection, preventive care, education, and self-management can prevent much of diabetes' burden.

Graph: Percentage of U.S. Population with Diagnosed Diabetes.

Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes. Of these people living with diabetes, about 18 million have been diagnosed, and about 6 million do not know they have it (1).

If current trends continue, 1 of 3 people born in the United States in 2000 will develop diabetes during their lifetime (2). The risk is higher for African Americans and Hispanics (2 of 5) and for Hispanic girls and women (1 of 2). In 2007, about 1.6 million adults were newly diagnosed with diabetes, and at least 57 million adults were at risk of developing diabetes (1).

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death. It is also a leading cause for complications such as blindness, kidney failure, and lower extremity amputations (1). In 2007, the total cost of diabetes in the United States was estimated at $174 billion (3).

Ways You Can Help Prevent Diabetes

Prediabetes is a condition in which people have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Prediabetes places the individual at high risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (1). Obesity is also a major risk factor for diabetes (4). However, progression to diabetes among those at risk is not inevitable. Recent studies have shown that people at high risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by eating healthier, increasing physical activity, and losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight (5).

March 24 is American Diabetes Alert Day. This one-day health observation helps to inform the American public about the seriousness of diabetes. Use this day to learn how to prevent and control diabetes and its complications and to take steps towards better overall health.

Graph: Number and Percentage of U.S. Population with Diagnosed Diabetes


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: general information and national estimates on diabetes in the United States, 2007. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008.
  2. Narayan KM, Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Sorensen SW, Williamson DF. Lifetime risk for diabetes mellitus in the United States. JAMA. 2003;290(14):1884–90.
  3. American Diabetes Association. Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2007. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(3):596–615.
  4. Geiss LS, Pan L, Cadwell B, Gregg EW, Benjamin SM, Engelgau MM. Changes in incidence of diabetes in U.S. adults, 1997–2003. Am J Prev Med. 2006;30(5):371–7.
  5. Knowler WC, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, Lachin JM, Walker EA, Nathan DM; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med. 2002;346(6):393–403.

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: March 23, 2009
  • Page last updated: March 23, 2009
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs