CDC ups estimates of number of diabetics

ATLANTA — Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Wednesday.

In addition, an estimated 79 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Diabetes impacts 8.3% of Americans of all ages, and 11.3% of adults ages 20 years and older, according to the National Diabetes Fact Sheet for 2011. About 27% of those with diabetes — 7 million Americans — do not know they have the disease, the CDC reported. Prediabetes affects 35% of adults ages 20 years and older.

"These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent Type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes manage the disease to prevent serious complications, such as kidney failure and blindness," stated Ann Albright, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "We know that a structured lifestyle program that includes losing weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes."

In 2008, the CDC estimated that 23.6 million Americans, or 7.8% of the population, had diabetes, and another 57 million adults had prediabetes. The 2011 estimates have increased for a number of reasons, the CDC contended, including the fact that many people are living longer with diabetes, which raises the total number of those with the disease. Better management of the disease is improving cardiovascular disease risk factors and also is reducing such complications as kidney failure and amputations, the agency stated.

In a study published last year, the CDC projected that as many as 1-in-3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue. Type 2 diabetes, in which the body gradually loses its ability to use and produce insulin, accounts for 90% to 95% of diabetes cases. An estimated 1.9 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010.

Racial and ethnic minorities continue to have higher rates of diabetes after adjusting for population age differences. For adults, diabetes rates were 16.1% for American Indians/Alaska Natives, 12.6% for African-Americans, 11.8% for Hispanics, 8.4% for Asian-Americans and 7.1% for non-Hispanic whites.

Half of Americans aged 65 years and older have prediabetes, and nearly 27% have diabetes.

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