How common is diabetes in Native Americans and Alaska Natives?

Diabetes is more common in Native Americans and Alaska Natives than in any other group. According to the American Diabetes Society, the likelihood of having diabetes is 2.2 times higher in Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The larger majority have type 2 diabetes, a condition usually influenced by environmental factors like poor diet and lack of exercise. If you are a Native American or Alaskan Native, it is important to work together with your doctor to discuss your risks and steps you can take to prevent diabetes.
Consider these sobering statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Indian Health Service:
  • 2.2 times higher -- Likelihood of American Indians and Alaska Natives to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites
  • 95% -- Percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives with diabetes who have type 2 diabetes (as opposed to type 1 diabetes)
  • 30% -- Estimated percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives who have prediabetes
American Indians and Alaska Natives are clearly at greater risk. Educate yourself on how to prevent type 2 diabetes if you don't have it now, or how to effectively treat it if you've been diagnosed.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.