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Health Topics - Diabetes

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More than 30 million Americans are currently living with diabetes, and one out of four don’t know it.1 Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2015. The disease is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult-onset blindness. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body not making enough insulin, and there is no known way to prevent it. Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to use insulin properly, and it can be prevented. A disease once seen almost exclusively in adults over age 45, Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common in children and young people.


The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity.2 Average medical expenses among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than among people without the disease.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:3

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Autoimmune factors

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Environmental exposures

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:3

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Being overweight or having obesity

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Being 45 years or older

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Having a family history of type 2 diabetes

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Being physically active less than three times a week

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Ever having gestational diabetes

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CDC-Recognized Diabetes Prevention Programs4pdf icon

The National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) helps people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes prevent or delay the disease. Led by a trained coach, participants learn to make healthy lifestyle changes that can cut their risk by as much as 58%. Insurers and healthcare providers can expand access to the National DPP by increasing coverage as a health benefit, promoting referral to the program for patients at risk for type 2 diabetes, and continuing to support the development of new National DPP providers. Based on strong evidence of the program’s success, Medicare is undergoing the rule-making process that would expand its benefits to include the National DPP.

Diabetes Self-Management Education Programs5,6

Diabetes self-management education (DSME) provides patients the information they need to manage their diabetes. DSME may reduce healthcare costs associated with hospital admissions, readmissions, and complications while improving health care outcomes for participants.

Also see: Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support in Type 2 Diabetes: A Joint Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.external icon

Featured Resources

6|18 Evidence Summary (Diabetes)

Proven interventions that prevent chronic and infectious diseases

CDC’s 6|18 initiative provides partners with rigorous evidence about high-burden health conditions and associated interventions having the greatest health and cost impact. This summary provides a look at type 2 diabetes in the United States, evidence of the effectiveness of prevention programs, and current payer coverage for these programs.

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Diabetes State & Local Programs

CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation funds state and local health departments to support programs and activities to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes and to improve health outcomes for people diagnosed with diabetes.

Featured Tools

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United States Diabetes Surveillance System

This interactive Web application allows the user to view diabetes surveillance data and trends at national, state, and county levels. The data come from surveys and databases used by the US Diabetes Surveillance System to examine trends in diagnosed diabetes.

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Diabetes State Burden Toolkit

The State Diabetes Burden Toolkit provides state-level estimates of diabetes burden, economic costs, and mortality. The Toolkit also includes data about complications due to diabetes, healthy life years lost, and costs related to medical care, absenteeism, and lost household productivity.

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Diabetes Prevention Impact Toolkit

The Diabetes Prevention Impact Toolkit was developed to help employers, insurers, and state health departments project the health and economic effects of offering the National DPP or similar lifestyle change programs to populations at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

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Chronic Disease Cost Calculator (Version 2)

To help states estimate the economic burden of chronic diseases, CDC and RTI International developed this calculator, which provides state-level estimates of medical expenditures and absenteeism costs for several chronic diseases, including diabetes.

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Chronic Disease State Policy Tracking System

This online database allows users to search for state-level policies that support the prevention of chronic diseases. Users can search by state, health topic, setting, status, and year. Currently, the database houses only policies related to nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention.

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Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity: Data, Trends and Maps

This CDC online tool allows users to search for and view state specific indicators related to nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. Users can search on the basis of a specific location or an indicator.

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CDC’s Virtual Healthy School

The Virtual Healthy School provides examples of what a healthy school environment looks like and how to implement the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model for creating a healthier school.

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CDC Sortable Stats

Sortable Stats is an interactive data set comprised of behavioral risk factors and health indicators. This site compiles data from various published CDC and federal sources into a format that allows users to view, sort, and analyze data at state/territory, regional, and national levels.

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  5. Powers, M. A., Bardsley, J., Cypress, M., Duker, P., Funnell, M., Fischl, A. H., .Maryniuk, M., Siminerio, L., & Vivian, E. (2015). Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support in Type 2 Diabetes: A Joint Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association, the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(8), 1323-1334.