Prevalence of diabetes in the US plateaus but remains high, study finds
After years of rapid increase, a new study published in JAMA reveals the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the US has leveled off, offering some hope that measures to combat this disease are beginning to take effect. However, the study also found that diabetes and prediabetes continue to affect almost half of adults in the country.
The figures on US prevalence and trends in diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes were estimated by Andy Menke, PhD, an epidemiologist at Social & Scientific Systems Inc. in Silver Spring, MD, and colleagues.
The team used National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) data involving 23,634 adults from 1988-2010 to estimate diabetes trends, with a further 2,781 from 2011-12 to estimate the recent prevalence of the condition.
The data reveals that in 2011-12, around 12-14% of the US adult population had diabetes, while prediabetes affected approximately 37-38% of the population.
The cost of diabetes to the US is enormous, increasing by 41% between 2007 and 2012, from $174 billion to $245 billion, according to the study authors. The largest part of the cost is hospital inpatient care, which accounts for 43%, followed by prescription medications to treat complications caused by diabetes, accounting for 18% of diabetes costs.
In their study, Menke and colleagues used a previous diagnosis of diabetes among participants to define the prevalence of diabetes in the US.
Where diabetes had not been previously diagnosed, the team identified the condition via the presence of a hemoglobin A1c level at 6.5% or greater or a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) level of 126 mg/dL or greater. Alternatively, diabetes was identified via a 2-hour plasma glucose (2-hour PG) level of 200 mg/dL or greater.
Study findings 'offer hope'
The study findings revealed that the unadjusted prevalence for total diabetes among the US population was 14.3% between 2011 and 2012. The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes was 9.1%, standing at 5.2% for undiagnosed diabetes and 38% for prediabetes. Among those with diabetes, 36.4% were undiagnosed.