Diabetic Population to Double or Triple by 2050

John Commins, October 26, 2010

One in 10 U.S. adults has diabetes now, but as many as one in three adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis shows.

The prevalence is expected to rise sharply over the next 40 years due to an aging population more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, increases in minority groups that are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, and people with diabetes living longer, CDC projections published in Population Health Metrics show.

The projections are higher than previous estimates because the study factored in aging, minority populations and lifespan. The report predicts that the number of diabetes cases each year will increase from eight per 1,000 people in 2008, to 15 per 1,000 in 2050, and that the number of Americans with diabetes will range from one in 3 to one in 5 by 2050, reflecting differing assumptions about how many people will develop diabetes, and how long they will live.

"These are alarming numbers that show how critical it is to change the course of type 2 diabetes," said Ann Albright, director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "Successful programs to improve lifestyle choices on healthy eating and physical activity must be made more widely available, because the stakes are too high and the personal toll too devastating to fail."

Proper diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of diabetes and help to control the condition. Prevention programs directed at groups at high risk of type 2 diabetes can reduce future increases in diabetes prevalence, but will not eliminate them, the report says.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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