Diabetes doubles over two decades
April 14th, 2014
05:01 PM ET

Diabetes doubles over two decades

The prevalence of diabetes in the United States has nearly doubled in the past two decades, according to a study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study authors found that this rise in diabetes from 5.5% to 9.3% of the U.S. population over the last 20 years paralleled the growing rate of obesity in America.

Better screening tools such as a hemoglobin A1c diagnostic test have also helped physicians identify more diabetes cases, the researchers say.

In 1988, about 16% of individuals who met the criteria for diabetes were not diagnosed by a physician. That number fell to 11% in 2010. Because the total number of diabetics in the United States has increased to nearly 21 million, the study authors say the number of estimated undiagnosed cases - around 2.3. million - has remained the same over the last two decades.

"My hope, and obviously everybody's hope, is that 11% will go down further as there's improved access to healthcare for all Americans," said Dr. Martin Abrahamson, who was not involved in the study.

Experts predict that the number of Americans with diabetes will reach 44 million by 2034 if things don't change.

soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Walter

    It should be obvious by now that it is the American diet that's causing the rise in diabetes. Processed foods with refined sugars and corn products are not good for the body. Yet, the food industry continues along this path with the FDA's approval.

    April 15, 2014 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • juvi

      I'm not totally letting the food companies off the hook, but why is it their fault? They only manufacturer what the consumers want. If people would demand healthier food, you don't think the food companies would be all over that? Look at the 'Gluten free' trend. All of a sudden people think Gluten is evil and then, poof, tons of Gluten free products hit the shelf. Perhaps if people would shun fast food, massive desserts, junk food and sugary drinks, the problem would take care of itself.

      April 15, 2014 at 09:15 | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      Juvi, for years the food industries have fought against consumer groups and the regulatory agencies when it came to what was in our food. Recall how much of an effort the put up against food labels, and then ensuring that the foods were properly labeled. More recently, the industry put out it's "sugar is sugar" campaign when high fructose corn syrup was brought into question.

      While you are indeed correct to mention that part of the blame lies with the consumer for not choosing a healthier lifestyle, especially with regards to what they put in their bodies, I still hold the food industry at greater fault. They spend massive amounts of money on advertising, coercing people into believing that certain products are good for their health, when in fact they may not be. Their legal divisions are fully aware of how to skirt around the laws governing the packaging of food. For that matter, they have deep pockets when it comes to political lobbying and have made considerable advancements in staffing the FDA with former food industry execs. Thus, where does the main fault lie?

      April 15, 2014 at 10:52 | Report abuse |
    • Catsh

      Thinking that people won't eat it if it's not available is blatantly false.
      If people want it, someone will supply it – legally or illegally.
      It only stops when people no longer want it.
      That goes for all 'forbidden fruits' – sweets, drugs, alcohol, abortion, etc, etc.

      April 15, 2014 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • Brickell Princess

      Why are you blaming the "food industry"? Are you the typical American that always passes the blame onto someone else? No one is forcing anyone in America to buy anything processed or manufactured. Thereby, it is not the food industry's fault that Americans chose the box of Kraft Mac & Cheese over home made mac & cheese. You are the one buying it and stuffing it in your pie hole. You are the one making the choice. You are the one to blame.

      April 15, 2014 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      Sorry, princess, but your rhetoric doesn't cut it. If the "food industry" was up front about everything it put into the products they made and didn't attempt to cut corners, use substandard ingredients, or flat out lie about the harmful affects of food additives, then your "pie hole" theory might have merit. However, since the "food industry" does not conduct itself in that manner, your point is moot.

      April 15, 2014 at 16:03 | Report abuse |
    • wuzzup

      Hey, Walter, is it possible that the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood affect blood sugar levels? If so, then lung capacity can affect diabetes. Is it possible that hormone levels (insulin) in the body can impact blood sugar levels? If so, the endocrine system plays a part in glucose transport. Can blood pressure and nitrogen levels in the blood raise blood sugar Then, kidneys play a big role. My point is this. There are many factors that contribute to the proper regulation of blood sugar. Food is one of many. You name it, bacterial flora in the colon, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, allergies and stress...all contribute, greatly, to this complex disease. To point a finger at food companies, alone, shows that (a.) You don't have diabetes, and (b.) Even if you did, you wouldn't have a clue how to treat it. The incidence of diabetes is indicative of the numbers in this country who don't consistently practice the basic fundamentals of good health (which happen to be the same people who think diabetes is a disease caused solely by diet)...ie., people like Walter.

      April 15, 2014 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • letsBcivil

      Wuzzup – hadn't heard the hypoxia connection before but it's clearly on the money...

      Story today at CBS: Clues to Type 2 diabetes discovered on Mount Everest
      British investigators learned more about how low oxygen levels in the body (hypoxia) may be linked with insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes....
      Fat tissue in obese people is believed to exist in a chronic state of mild hypoxia because the small blood vessels are unable to supply sufficient oxygen to fat tissue," study leader Mike Grocott, a professor of anesthesia and critical care at the University of Southampton, said in a university news release....

      April 16, 2014 at 01:02 | Report abuse |
    • L

      I totally agree with Walter.

      April 16, 2014 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
  2. letsBcivil

    While the real scientists (i.e. not trolls like Walter) continue to study the problem, shut off the TV and put the phone down. Then get moving. Walk, run, bike, dance, take the kids outside and play catch, clean the house, etc. Do this everyday, then celebrate with lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Your new eating mantra should be include include include fruits and veggies rather than restrict restrict restrict the food villain of the month as sold to you by pseudo-scientists with a book to sell.

    April 15, 2014 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Walter

      No doubt you are part of the problem, not the solution. Of course you'll label any REASONABLE voice as a troll to discredit what is essentially the truth.

      April 15, 2014 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
    • Greg Vick

      For someone who has a name of "letsBcivil", your remark was far from civil. Maybe you should look at changing your name to something like ... "I-can-be-anAss".

      April 15, 2014 at 10:50 | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Your post would have been well-received if not for the first part of your first sentence. Nothing Walter said conflicts with your post: More activity, more whole foods, fewer processed foods.

      April 15, 2014 at 12:07 | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Seeing your response to Walter, I suspect you have the terms scientists and pseudoscientists confused.

      April 15, 2014 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • L

      @ Neuropathy Association ... I have peripheral neuropathy, but I do not have diabetes. Regardless it's a horrible infliction to have.

      April 16, 2014 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
  3. T

    It would be really nice if the Medical R&D people found a cure soon before serious complications start setting in for people with the disease, after all no matter how good they take care of themselves, something pops up eventually down the line.

    April 15, 2014 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Neuropathy Association

      The most common complication that is hardly ever talked about is diabetic peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage due to diabetes as well as pre-diabetic conditions. 50-70% of all diabetics will develop this: so, yes, much more needs to be done to address the treatment and management of these complications as well. The Neuropathy Association is working hard to drive awareness, advocacy, and research in this area: to learn more and to support our efforts to address this often debilitating and painful diabetes complication, visit http://www.neuropathy.com or join our community on Facebook.
      –The Neuropathy Association

      April 15, 2014 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
  4. GOP Prayer - GOPers, Read Together and Out Loud With Me

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    April 15, 2014 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • juvi

      Yea, verrily, yea.....snork!

      April 15, 2014 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
  5. claudioteri

    We need to focus on what we can do for our health instead of keep expecting the government to do it for us. I agree with letsBcivil, everyone should be more responsible of personal diet and exercising. Fresh (preferably organic) fruit and vegetables and get moving, together with avoiding refined sugars, saturated fats and alcohol will really decrease percentages of diseases in the US. The main issue is, in my opinion, health awareness. People should start learning what are the beneficial effects of veggies and fruits in order to appreciate what they are eating, together with a new concept of cooking, where you can enjoy tasty and healthy recipes in one plate. A few interesting tips and facts on healthy foods can be found within the forum area of this sustainable healthcare project: http://drsocial.org/forums/2776/health-tips-and-news

    April 15, 2014 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Walter

      Good point, though in the case of what you buy from your local grocery store, what you get may not be what you thought it was. Recently, the dairy industry filed with the FDA to start adding artificial sweeteners into milk, requesting to do so without labeling the sweetener in the ingredient list. Consequently, the consumer would not know that this sweetner existed in the milk, thinking that they were buying 100% milk.

      April 15, 2014 at 10:59 | Report abuse |
    • juvi

      @Walter, not quite accurate http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm347194.htm
      It's for milk already flavored (ie chocolate milk). You made it sound like it was meant for plain milk.

      April 15, 2014 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      @Juvi: Not just chocolate milk, but other milk products, too. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/13/unlabeled-aspartame-use.aspx

      April 15, 2014 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
    • letsBcivil

      Mercola?? Part of the anti-vax crowd, part of the "buy my supplements" and feed my wallet crowd?

      April 15, 2014 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • L

      I've done a lot of research on my own ... our food industry has been adding more and more salt, sugar and fat into processed foods (yes even milk - they don't have to label some ingredients if they don't meet a certain threshold) and then label them healthy. I really have a problem with that. I also know that it costs me about $100 a week to eat healthy for ONE person – in the Washington DC area. It's difficult to do if you are on a fix income. If the food industry pushed eating healthy (real food) it may drive the cost down so everyone has the same opportunity to eat right.

      April 16, 2014 at 15:08 | Report abuse |
  6. LoboII

    The medical world can't culture, can't find the inflammatory infectious agent affecting absorption – either colonizing themselves in the bile ducts of the liver or in the pancreas – here are some of the medical facts or studies –

    University of Washington – St. Louis – 85% of all breast cancer patients show a 5-10 lbs. weight gain prior to their diagnosis
    21 year old male dies of meningitis like syndrome – 4 people who had organs, tissues donated by this individual developed cancer.
    The virus responsible – psoriasis far more than just a skin problem – diabetes – high bloods pressure (bacteria responsible – ulcerated colitis) – We need more of these BS studies which have no bearing on any outcome – colonize these inflammatory infectious agent which compromise the function of the bile/insulin – weight gain, paleness, aneurism – etc.
    It's inflammation – not your diet as they want you to believe!!!!!!!!!

    April 15, 2014 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • juvi

      Huh?!?!? Speaking riddles?

      April 15, 2014 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
    • Hollie

      What do you think causes inflammation? There are many culprits. Among them are Omega-6 fatty acids, vegetable oils, corn, high-fructose corn syrup, grains – so I guess the cure would be to find out what these inflammatory agents are and abandon them. Except these are all the things the FDA and USDA support. They really are just advertising agencies after all.

      April 15, 2014 at 20:50 | Report abuse |
  7. Albert Wedworth

    Stop eating processed foods! Cut out All Corn Sugar/ High fructose corn sugar. Eat Fresh Use Palm Sugar instead of white sugar. All SUGAR IS POISON

    April 15, 2014 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • juvi

      There are naturally occurring sugars in many foods, so you might want to clarify your statement to say "all added sugars are evil". I have no problem with sugar in foods where it is obvious (cookies, etc). Where I have the biggest problem is sugar found in items, such as dill pickles. I don't recall sugar being required in the production of pickles. That is where I agree with Walter in that I think sugar is added to foods to encourage 'addiction to sweetness', starting at a very young age. I read labels like a hawk and often put back things I thought were healthy.

      April 15, 2014 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
    • Artemis MA

      I agree with juvi - there are sugars naturally in many foods, usually at a decent level (like most veggies). I don't see any point in adding sugar to foods that don't need them - and I make my own dill pickles just so I know what's in the jar.

      April 15, 2014 at 20:49 | Report abuse |
    • L

      I think Albert was referring to processed sugar, not naturally occurring ... like in fruit.

      April 16, 2014 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
  8. USA


    April 15, 2014 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 1or2

    I can only assume from the content they are talking about Type 2 diabetes! I wish everyone would understand the difference and make that distinction in all diabetes related articles!! Type 2 is very treatable, but does require education and effort - neither of which are common.

    April 15, 2014 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. SKE

    I wish CNN would make the distinction between Type I or Type II for this article and point out the differences. Type II is a preventable disease that can be maintained by a healthy lifestyle. I wish more attention would be paid to the Type I diabetics out there that don't have a choice in the matter....

    April 15, 2014 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 1or2

    Yes, indeed! Most often the 'cure' for Type 2 diabetes lies with the person. In the case of Type 1, they are completely insulin dependent and there is no cure. Type 1 demands that you are compliant and take responsiblity for your own health and wellbeing. Simple truth: Be vigiliant in monitoring your Type 1 diabetes or suffer the agony of your consequences, including death!

    April 15, 2014 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Rick

    Is this Type 1 or Type 2? This article is useless if they are not indicating which form of diabetes is being discussed.

    April 15, 2014 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. JSTC

    There's the A1C test available to everyone; this test reveals your blood glucose for periods up to 90-days. Glucose stays in the hemoglobin. The range if under 6.5 [in some scales] appears to be normal. Above this and your Diabetic disposed.

    Second, Type II is on the rise; given high content of food containing sugars, carbs etc. - However, it's real simple; give up the sugar, carbs, desserts, pizza, beer, soda and live on proteins, fiber, fruits & veg and you will feel and see a big difference.

    Unfortunately, in the U.S.; we are seeing obese kids like never before, obese teens and obese young adults...it's all about the food...get it and get it right!

    April 15, 2014 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sooki

    This is a short article with little detail and little real information. Type 2 diabetes is believed to be caused by poor food choices and unhealthy weight. It is reversible and can be managed with better diet, exercise, and also with medication. This type of diabetes is typically associated with older adults who are overweight, but is being seen in younger people now and this is believed to be the result of obesity at younger ages. In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still functions and makes insulin. What the article fails to mention is that Type 1 diabetes is also on the rise. It is known that Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune attack on the pancreas which destroys the body's ability to make insulin. It is known that there is a gene combination that is present in those who develop Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetics must have insulin daily to survive. A person would die within a short period of time without insulin in his or her body. Better diet and exercise will not reverse Type 1 diabetes, although it does help keep them healthier, as it does with all people. There is no absolutely known trigger that starts the autoimmune process, although there are many informed suggestions, including viruses. They are not sure why Type 1 diagnoses are also on the rise. I agree with Rick and others -any medical reporter should start getting it right. Writing a short general article about "diabetes" is pointless when there are actually 2 very different conditions that have similar names. Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are VERY different conditions with different causes and it is important to know the difference – especially if you are a "medical journalist". Get your details right or don't publish the story.

    April 15, 2014 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kelly

      Sooki, I agree with everything you say, except that Type 2 diabetes is reversible. It can be extremely well-managed, but not reversed or cured. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/basics/definition/con-20031902

      April 15, 2014 at 17:47 | Report abuse |
  15. Jim Eleotin

    I think this just goes to show how much lifestyles and food products have changed over the decades.
    A good diet and moderate exercise would greatly reduce the number of people with type 2 diabetes. Even most treatments put emphasis on controlling weight and diet. I work for a company that does just that.

    April 15, 2014 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. ruth

    I worked for 35 years 40 hours a week ,raised 2 children ,by myself and never took welfare and cooked every meal they ate growing up .I canned my own tomatoes,spaghetti sauce ,peppers, and grow my own vegetables ,i have 3 raised beds, i plant 500 cloves of garlic every year to this day.I do not take medications and when I go to bed I sleep because I am tired from working ,even though I am retired I continue this lifestyle. I seldom use a cellphone although I have one, and the internet is something I use to communicate with people once a week....maybe if people lived this way they would not be fat ,would eat good food ,not processed and not be a diabetic. I love to spring clean my entire house ,so as you can see I am always busy and I am 66 years old and feel great....people should try this instead of a sedentary life....get moving , enjoy the outdoors and cook more

    April 15, 2014 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • L

      Good for you! But going back to the stone age isn't for everyone. I know how to do the things you are saying and raised 2 kids alone and did a lot of cooking by scratch – but not everyone can do this or have the space to do this. This blanket statement is ridiculous

      April 16, 2014 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
  17. Nathan Ballard

    McConnell waives guns around, Palin waives Big Gulps around. Enough said.

    April 15, 2014 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. T1D

    It should be noted that this article refers to Type 2 Diabetes. There is no causal link between poor diet and Type 1 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease.

    April 15, 2014 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kelly

      Amen, TD1 (although, the article never notes T2). I get really aggravated by articles like this (along with the general population) not separating/defining T1 and T2 diabetes. They are completely different diseases with some of the same symptoms and risks, but the cause and origin is very different.

      P.S. I have had T1 for 35 years, so I consider myself a bit of an expert 🙂

      April 15, 2014 at 17:43 | Report abuse |
  19. arghesis

    Reblogged this on lucianacaru and commented:
    Someone is really rubbing their hands at so much new business!

    April 15, 2014 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Carolyn

    More autism, more diabetes, more everything. Toxins: GMO's, more toxins, mandatory shots, more approved drugs, and more . . . When GMO insecticides get caught in our cellular structures, all chronic problems become worse.

    April 15, 2014 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heinrich

      Walmart is having a sale on tin foil this week.

      Diabetes is due to people eating too much and getting fat, not "toxins"

      Autism is NOT due to vaccines, which incidentally prevent real diseases like measles, which can be fatal

      We have "more approved drugs" to fight the disease people get because they don't take care of themselves

      "GMO insecticides"...not really sure what that is. Most insecticides are not genetic, and therefore can't be GMO

      While I agree with you that we have an increased exposure to "non-natural" compounds, these are not directly responsible for many of the diseases we face. Most of the severe diseases, ie diabetes, heart disease, cancer are due to poor food choices and, most of all, too much food.

      April 15, 2014 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
    • truthwithbrainsforachange

      No knowledge or understanding. Typical. If you cant even define properly the words in your sentences, dont spew them to make more people blindly ignorant.

      April 15, 2014 at 21:11 | Report abuse |
  21. Joe Newman

    Watch the movie Woodstock.
    You'll see what we looked like before fast food,
    24 hours grocery stores, video / electronic devices
    and P.E. in schools.

    April 15, 2014 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Corey Holbert

    I am a Health Insurance agent and for years I have been at a loss for how to help my clients with more than a great Metformin or Insulin prescription coverage. Until I found til: http://bit.ly/1iXadVy
    According to the American Diabetes Association;
    Total prevalence of diabetes
    Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
    Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
    Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people
    Prediabetes: 79 million people*
    New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010.

    – See more at: http://bit.ly/1iXadVy

    April 15, 2014 at 22:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. mpl555

    Is it both type I or type II. The story should clarify.

    April 16, 2014 at 00:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Bob Kebic

    Food Industry is the main culprit for bribing politicians...actually they are all responsible! Remember the "Lucky Strike" cigarettes ad?
    "20,697 Physicians say "LUCKIES are less irritating"
    "It's toasted"
    Your Throat Protection Against Irritation, Against Cough!
    Can you ever trust the government?

    April 16, 2014 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. mark sabilia

    You need to differentiate between type 2, which is tied to obesity, and type 1, which is not. The people with type 1, autoimmune disease should not be unfairly grouped with type 2 patients, as they did nothing to cause their diabetes!

    April 16, 2014 at 06:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Laraba

    I would argue that Type 2 also has significant genetic components. I'm a 44 year old female with Type 2 diabetes, diagnosed 9 years ago. I've always been thin - typical (non pregnancy) weight is 135 lbs and I'm 5 ft. 8 inches tall. I haven't exercised like I should through the years, but definitely weight isn't an issue for me. But genetically I've got diabetes in my maternal line and looking back, I'm now aware I was battling hypoglycemia episodes most of my life - but didn't know it. In my mid 30's, my blood sugar issues shifted to diabetes. My mother and aunt have diabetes, and my great-grandfather died of it. I know most Type 2's have issues with obesity but it doesn't always work that way. My struggle with food in general is that there isn't a grand unified theory and there are so many conflicting suggestions. I've been eating a low carb diet based on Dr. Bernstein's books for 9 years and have kept my A1c's in the 5.7 range, which is pretty good. I have to be very careful but I have a large family of children and really want to stay healthy to see them grow up.

    April 16, 2014 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. rszp

    Its your diet. Eat well and exercise!

    April 17, 2014 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Karalyn

    The most sad – and positive – response to the diabetes epidemic is that it can be prevented and controlled. It’s sad because the information is out there – engage in a healthy lifestyle that includes eating right and exercise –but people are ignoring it at their demise. It’s positive when you realize that change is occurring and there are people fighting the war against diabetes who are making an incredible difference. One of those people is Dr. Francine Kaufman, past president of the American Diabetes Association.

    April 17, 2014 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
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