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5 Surprising Statistics About Diabetes

March 22, 2016


Watch TV for a couple of hours or flip through a magazine and you’re likely to see an ad for a Type 2 diabetes medication. While advertising for prescription drugs is not new, there’s good reason for the number of Type 2 diabetes ads you’re seeing: 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, mostly Type 2.

And you can understand why the healthcare industry wants to educate the public because one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050. But diabetes isn’t just about monitoring your blood sugar and making smart food and lifestyle choices. There is a lot about the disease that may surprise you.

The Many Types of Diabetes: You’ve likely heard about Type 2 diabetes, but did you know there is also the less-prevalent Type 1? Type 1, commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes, can happen at any age and is the result of your immune system destroying the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. There’s also gestational diabetes. This kind of diabetes occurs solely in pregnant women and is thought to be the result of the hormones from the placenta blocking the action of insulin in the mother’s body. It’s estimated that 9 percent of women have gestational diabetes.

Many People with Diabetes are Undiagnosed: About 8 million people in the United States, or about one in four of the 29 million who have diabetes are undiagnosed. It can be tempting to brush off subtle symptoms like increased thirst or urination, but don’t: These can be signs of diabetes. Other symptoms include increased hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, tingling or numbness in your limbs.

1 in 3 Americans has Prediabetes: Not only that, eight out of nine don’t know they have it. Prediabetes can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease and occurs when your blood sugar is higher than normal but not in the diabetic range.

15 to 30 Percent of People with Prediabetes will Develop Type 2 Diabetes: If they do not lose weight or increase their physical activity. Eating healthy and being more active can cut your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by half.

Ethnicity Plays a Role in Whether You’re a Risk: According to CDC data, certain ethnic groups like African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics are more at risk for developing diabetes.

Though there is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, making healthy choices—like eating more fruits, vegetables and lean meats and making physical activity like walking or biking a part of your life—can help reduce your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. If you have concerns about your family history or any symptoms you’re experiencing, talk with your doctor.

Diabetes in America