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Diabetes on the rise, and new data 'alarming' says CDC

Diabetics must check blood sugar frequently
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, which is three million more than in 2010, according to a recent report. And one in four people don’t even know they have it. Diabetes is a serious disease, which if untreated, can lead to heart and kidney disease, amputation of the lower extremities, and loss of vision.

Additionally, about one in three American adults have a condition known as “prediabetes,” where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to have actual diabetes. Fifteen to 30 percent of people with prediabetes who do not lose weight and start exercising will develop full-blown type 2 diabetes within five years.

“These new numbers are alarming and underscore the need for an increased focus on reducing the burden of diabetes in our country,” says Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “Diabetes is costly in both human and economic terms. It’s urgent that we take swift action to effectively treat and prevent this serious disease.”

The following 2012 health statistics appear in a new publication, called the “National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014,”:

  • More than 9 percent of Americans have diabetes.
  • In 2012, 1.7 million people aged 20 years or older were newly diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults are about twice as likely to have diagnosed diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults.
  • 208,000 people younger than 20 years have been diagnosed with diabetes (type 1 or type 2).
  • Prediabetes is present in 86 million adults aged 20 years and older.
  • The percentage of U.S. adults with prediabetes is similar for non-Hispanic whites (35 percent), non-Hispanic blacks (39 percent), and Hispanics (38 percent).

Diabetes can be managed through physical activity, diet, and appropriate use of insulin and oral medications to lower blood sugar levels. It's also important to reduce heart disease risk factors when you have diabetes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and tobacco use.

Without treatment, people with diabetes are at increased risk of serious health complications including:

  • vision loss
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • kidney failure
  • amputation of toes, feet, or legs
  • premature death

In 2012, diabetes and its related complications accounted for $245 billion in total medical costs and lost work and wages. This figure is up from $174 billion in 2007, according to the CDC.

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