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Embargoed until Friday, January 26 , 2001

January 24, 2001
Contact: Mary Kay Sones
CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention
& Health Promotion
(770) 488–5131
Alternate: Tim Hensley
CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention
& Health Promotion
(770) 488–5554

Diabetes Rates Rise Another Six Percent in 1999

Diabetes rates rose a striking 6.0 percent among adults in 1999 according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new findings are reported in the February issue of Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association, and are further evidence that diabetes is a major public health threat of epidemic proportions. Currently more than 16 million Americans have diabetes.

This new report is a follow-up to a study CDC released in September showing that from 1990 to 1998 diabetes rose 33 percent (4.9 percent to 6.5 percent) among U.S. adults. That study also linked the increase in diabetes with the rising rates of obesity, a major risk factor for diabetes. The prevalence of obesity increased significantly from 17.9% in 1998 to 18.9% in 1999, an increase of 5.6% in one year and 57% from 1991.

"This dramatic new evidence signals the unfolding of an epidemic in the United States," said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, director of CDC. "With obesity on the rise, we can expect diabetes rates to increase sharply as a result. If these dangerous trends continue at the current rates, the impact on our nation’s health and medical care costs in future years will be overwhelming," Koplan said.

In 1997, an estimated $98 billion was spent on health care associated with diabetes. Both the September report and the follow-up data were derived from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an ongoing data collection program conducted by state health agencies in collaboration with CDC.

According to the 1999 survey, increases in diabetes were noted in every category examined including sex, age, race, education, weight and smoking status. Prevalence increased among both women (7.4 percent to 7.6 percent) and men (5.5 percent to 6.0 percent) and among all ethnic groups including whites (5.9 percent to 6.2 percent), blacks (8.9 percent to 9.9 percent), Hispanics (7.7 percent to 8.0 percent) and all others (6.6 percent to 7.7 percent).

"Despite these dramatic increases, we are encouraged that maintaining healthy behavior such as controlling weight through nutrition and physical activity can help ease the burden of diabetes and may actually prevent its onset," said Dr. Frank Vinicor, director of CDC’s diabetes program.

Approximately 800,000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year. It is the seventh leading cause of death in this country and a major contributor to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and amputations.

CDC works in collaboration with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) in sponsoring the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), an initiative involving both public and private partners to improve diabetes treatment, promote early diagnosis, and maintain quality of life for people who have diabetes.

For more information on diabetes, visit CDC’s Web site: or call toll free: 877-CDC-DIAB (877-232-3422). For information about nutrition and physical activity, call toll free at 888-CDC-4NRG (888-232-4674) or visit

To obtain copies of geographic maps showing diabetes and obesity trends in the United States, call the press contacts listed above.

CDC protects people’s health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national and international organizations.

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This page last reviewed January 26, 2001

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