Two in every five adults in American, or 40% of the country’s adult population, are highly likely to develop type 2 diabetes at some point during their lives.
That’s according to new estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which state that ever-growing rates of obesity and diabetes have combined with an ever-increasing lifespan to raise lifetime risk of type 2 diabetes to an overwhelming 40% for both men and women in American, with the odds even worse for certain minority groups.
Researchers at the CDC’s Epidemiology and Statistics Branch, Division of Diabetes Translatio, said a re-examination of lifetime diabetes risk and life-years lost due to diabetes was warranted after finding simultaneous but contrasting changes in diabetes incidence and mortality rates.
Dr. Edward Gregg and colleagues examined diabetes incidence data from 1985 to 2011, and assessed the death certificates of 598,216 adults. They found that for an average 20-year-old American, the lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes jumped from nearly 21% in the late 1980s to 40% in 2000-11 for men, and from 27% to 39% for women.
The greatest increase was seen in Hispanic men and women, and non-Hispanic black women, with both groups estimated to now have a 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
It wasn’t all bad news however, as the researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes are living longer than in the past. For men with type 2 diabetes at age 40, the estimated number of years of life lost to the disease fell by nearly 8 years in the 1990s to just under 6 years in the 2000s, while for women, the figure reduced from almost 9 years to just under 7 years.
Dr. Gregg said that years spent living with type 2 diabetes “have increased by 156% in men and 70% in women”, explaining that this is largely due to “better medications and treatments for both the disease and its complications”.
However, he warned that “as the number of diabetes cases continue to increase and patients live longer, there will be a growing demand for health services and extensive cost”, adding that “more effective lifestyle interventions are urgently needed to reduce the number of new cases in the US and other developed nations.”
The findings were published online in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

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