Diabetes cases rise to record levels

Sunday, November 16, 2003

November 17, 2003

WASHINGTON - More than 18.2 million U.S. residents have diabetes, including about 5.2 million people whose diabetes is undiagnosed, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced last week.

The estimate is the highest ever, reflecting that "we are diagnosing more people who live with diabetes and the overall prevalence of this disease continues to increase," Thompson said.

The report also found that among people who are at least 20 years old, diabetes affects 14.9% of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 11.4% of non-Hispanic blacks, 8.4% of non-Hispanic whites and 8.2% of Hispanics.

"Clearly, diabetes remains a serious and growing health threat," Thompson said, adding that increasing public awareness and promoting better lifestyle choices are key to prevention.

The number of people with diabetes in developing countries could increase from 115 million in 2000 to 284 million in 2030 because of increasingly unhealthy diets and decreased exercise levels, stated the World Health Organization.

Diabetes is the cause of at least one in 20 deaths worldwide, costs nations between 2.5% and 15% of their annual health care budgets and generates significant indirect costs, such as loss of productivity, the WHO reported.

The WHO also announced that it is working with the International Diabetes Federation to launch a global effort to prevent diabetes and other diseases related to unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. About 90% of diabetes cases worldwide are type-2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity and lack of exercise.