How common is diabetes?

A significant portion of Americans have diabetes. Watch this video from Coliseum Medical Centers to learn more  about health risks associated with diabetes.

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you are certainly not alone. An estimated 24 million Americans, or 8 percent of the population, has diabetes. Of the diagnosed cases, approximately 90-95 percent are type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is common among older people; in fact, almost 25 percent of the population aged 60 years and older has diabetes. However, the number of children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes is rapidly rising, most likely to our society's increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 422 million adults have diabetes. That's 8.5 percent of the world population. The number of adults with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980 and has caused a drain on healthcare systems.

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Diabetes is a significant health problem in the United States. Some 23.6 million Americans have diabetes and, each year, 1.6 million adults are newly diagnosed with this condition. About 5 to 10 percent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Sometimes called insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset diabetes, this form of the disease typically strikes in childhood or young adulthood. It is caused by a failure of the pancreas to produce insulin, perhaps because of autoimmune disease, genetic abnormality or injury. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin shots.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common and affects 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes. It is often linked to obesity and a lack of physical activity. In the past, this form of the disease was called adult-onset diabetes, but today more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.


An estimated 24 million adults and children in the U.S. are currently living with some form of diabetes—and an additional 1.6 million are diagnosed every year. Diabetes has three main forms—type 1, type 2 and gestational—with type 2 accounting for almost 95 percent of all adult diabetics. People of color and adults 40 and older are at a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The stats on diabetes are:

  • 1.9 million new cases in 2010 of adults 20 years or older
  • New cases diagnosed every 16.6 seconds
  • 8.3% of the United States is affected (25.8 million Americans)


Approximately 14 million people in the United States have diabetes mellitus. This common disorder has three varieties. Nondependent diabetes mellitus, or type 2 diabetes, accounts for 90-95 percent of all diabetes in the United States. It usually occurs after age 30, and its occurrence becomes steadily more common as you age. Almost 20 percent of those who are 65-74 years old in the United States have diabetes.

Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or type 1 diabetes, accounts for 5-10 percent of all diabetes in the United States. This disease usually starts before age 30, starts to show symptoms much more quickly, and causes more severe conditions than type 2. Gestational diabetes mellitus, the occurrence of glucose intolerance during pregnancy, occurs in 3-5 percent of all pregnancies and is the most common medical problem of pregnancy.

Diabetes is one of the nation's leading causes of death and disability. An estimated 23.6 million children and adults have diabetes and are at risk for disabling and life-threatening complications such as heart attack, stroke and kidney, eye and nerve disease. Another 57 million adults are estimated to have prediabetes and are at high risk for developing diabetes.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, "the number of people around the world suffering from diabetes has skyrocketed in the last two decades, from 30 million to 230 million, claiming millions of lives and severely taxing the ability of health care systems to deal with the epidemic."

The increasing prevalence of diabetes is a growing problem worldwide that has many healthcare professionals concerned. In the United States, about 25.6 million adults (11.3 percent) have diabetes. Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. In China, nearly 114 million adults (11.6 percent) have diabetes. By 2030, 439 million people are expected to have diabetes worldwide.

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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.