What Are Diabetes Statistics, Facts and Myths?

Statistics from the 2014 USA national diabetes fact sheet from the CDC’s National Diabetes Report.

29.1 million US children and adults (9.3% of the population) have diabetes. This is a rise from 25.8 million (8.5%) in 2011.

Researchers from the Jefferson School of Population Health (Philadelphia, PA) published a study which estimates that by 2025 there could be 53.1 million people with diabetes.

21 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes (a rise from 18.8 million in 2011).

About 8.1 million people with diabetes have not been diagnosed (a rise from 7 million in 2011). This equates to 27.8% of people with diabetes currently being undiagnosed.

Diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes among people aged 20 years or older, US, 2012Stats from the CDC’s National Diabetes Report
About 86 million Americans aged 20 years or older have prediabetes.
1.7 million people aged 20 years or more were newly diagnosed with diabetes in 2012.
208,000 (0.25%) people younger than 20 years have diabetes.
Approximately 1 in every 400 kids and teenagers has diabetes.
12.3% of people aged 20+ years have diabetes; a total of 28.9 million individuals.
25.9% of people aged 65+ years have diabetes; a total of 11.2 million people.
13.6% of men have diabetes; a total of 15.5 million people (a rise from 11.8% in 2010).
11.2% of women have diabetes; a total of 13.4 million people (a rise from 10.8 in 2010).
Diabetes in the UK
In the United Kingdom there are about 3.8 million people with diabetes, according to the National Health Service. Diabetes UK, a charity, believes this number will jump to 6.2 million by 2035, and the National Health Service will be spending as much as 17% of its health care budget on diabetes by then.

Diabetes spreads in southeast Asia
Diabetes is rapidly spreading in Southeast Asia as people embrace American fast foods, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries and pizza. More Chinese adults who live in Singapore are dying of heart disease and developing type 2 diabetes than ever before, researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and the National University of Singapore reported in the journal Circulation.

The authors found that Chinese adults in Singapore who eat American-style junk foods twice a week had a 56% greater risk of dying prematurely form heart disease, while their risk of developing type 2 diabetes rose 27%, compared to their counterparts who “never touched the stuff”. There was a 80% higher likelihood of dying from coronary heart disease for those eating fast foods four times per week. (Link to article)

Some facts and myths about diabetes
Many presumed “facts” are thrown about in the paper press, magazines and on the internet regarding diabetes; some of them are, in fact, myths. It is important that people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, their loved ones, employers and schools have an accurate picture of the disease. Below are some diabetes myths:

People with diabetes should not exercise – NOT TRUE!! Exercise is important for people with diabetes, as it is for everybody else. Exercise helps manage body weight, improves cardiovascular health, improves mood, helps blood sugar control, and relieves stress. Patients should discuss exercise with their doctor first.
Fat people always develop type 2 diabetes eventually – this is not true. Being overweight or obese raises the risk of becoming diabetic, they are risk factors, but do not mean that an obese person will definitely become diabetic. Many people with type 2 diabetes were never overweight. The majority of overweight people do not develop type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a nuisance, but not serious – two thirds of diabetes patients die prematurely from stroke or heart disease. The life expectancy of a person with diabetes is from five to ten years shorter than other people’s. Diabetes is a serious disease.
Children can outgrow diabetes – this is not true. Nearly all children with diabetes have type 1; insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. These never come back. Children with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin for the rest of their lives, unless a cure is found one day.
Don’t eat too much sugar, you will become diabetic – this is not true. A person with diabetes type 1 developed the disease because their immune system destroyed the insulin-producing beta cells. A diet high in calories, which can make people overweight/obese, raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially if there is a history of this disease in the family.
I know when my blood sugar levels are high or low – very high or low blood sugar levels may cause some symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue and extreme thirst. However, levels need to be fluctuating a lot for symptoms to be felt. The only way to be sure about your blood sugar levels is to test them regularly. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark showed that even very slight rises in blood-glucose levels significantly raise the risk of ischemic heart disease. (Link to article)
Diabetes diets are different from other people’s – the diet doctors and specialized nutritionists recommend for diabetes patients are healthy ones; healthy for everybody, including people without the disease. Meals should contain plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and they should be low in salt and sugar, and saturated or trans fat. Experts say that there is no need to buy special diabetic foods because they offer no special benefit, compared to the healthy things we can buy in most shops.
High blood sugar levels are fine for some, while for others they are a sign of diabetes – high blood-sugar levels are never normal for anybody. Some illnesses, mental stress and steroids can cause temporary hikes in blood sugar levels in people without diabetes. Anybody with higher-than-normal blood sugar levels or sugar in their urine should be checked for diabetes by a health care professional.
Diabetics cannot eat bread, potatoes or pasta – people with diabetes can eat starchy foods. However, they must keep an eye on the size of the portions. Whole grain starchy foods are better, as is the case for people without diabetes.
One person can transmit diabetes to another person – NOT TRUE. Just like a broken leg is not infectious or contagious. A parent may pass on, through their genes to their offspring, a higher susceptibility to developing the disease.
Only older people develop type 2 diabetes – things are changing. A growing number of children and teenagers are developing type 2 diabetes. Experts say that this is linked to the explosion in childhood obesity rates, poor diet, and physical inactivity.
I have to go on insulin, this must mean my diabetes is severe – people take insulin when diet alone or diet with oral or non-insulin injectable diabetes drugs do not provide good-enough diabetes control, that’s all. Insulin helps diabetes control. It does not usually have anything to do with the severity of the disease.
If you have diabetes you cannot eat chocolates or sweets – people with diabetes can eat chocolates and sweets if they combine them with exercise or eat them as part of a healthy meal.
Diabetes patients are more susceptible to colds and illnesses in general – a person with diabetes with good diabetes control is no more likely to become ill with a cold or something else than other people. However, when a diabetic catches a cold, their diabetes becomes harder to control, so they have a higher risk of complications.
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