Diabetes - Prevalence, Risk, and Prevention

By Quincie Grounds, RD/LD, CNSC
Diabetes - Prevalence, Risk, and PreventionDiabetes affects men and women fairly equally, 11.8% to 10.8% respectively. All races are affected, with non-Hispanic blacks having the highest prevalence at 12.6%, closely followed by Hispanics at 11.8%.

There are many complications with diabetes including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, and neuropathy (nervous system disease). Did you know that diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness and kidney disease in adults? People with diabetes have two to four times the risk for heart disease or stroke as an adult without diabetes.

The financial toll of diabetes is just as shocking.

  • $245 billion: total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2012
  • $176 billion: direct medical costs
  • $69 billion: in reduced productivity

After adjusting for population, age and gender differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.

So who is at risk for diabetes? There are some things that affect your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke that you can't change. But being aware of them can help you take smart steps to lower your risk. However, there are many things you can change. You can prevent or lower your risk for type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle. If you have the following you are at a high risk for type 2 diabetes:

  • Advancing age
  • Family history
  • Overweight or obese
  • Sedentary or low physical activity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol or lipid levels
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Smoking

Logo that helps you lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. It all starts with small steps to better health.

Start with healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying active. You will lower your risk for type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke. Get help managing your current health issues such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking. Talk to your physician today about what steps to take to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Work with a Registered Dietitian to improve your eating habits and achieve a healthy weight. For more resources on lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes, check out the following websites:

American Diabetes Association

National Institute of Health, NIDDK

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


1. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/; http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/checkup-america/. Accessed 11.4.13

2. National Institute of Heatlh. National Center for Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (NIDDK) http://www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics/index.aspx#fast. Accessed 11.4.13