CDC: Fewer American adults—but more children—developing diabetes

The rate of new diabetes cases among American adults is dropping but continues to rise in children, according to the 2017 Diabetes Report Card released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report card, which used 2013-2015 data for adults and 2011-12 data for children, showed the number of new diagnosed cases among U.S. adults has dropped every year since 2008. However, the total number of adults living with diabetes is going up, possibly as a result of them living longer due to improvements in self-management and healthcare services.

About 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 percent of the population, had diabetes in 2015.

An additional 84 million U.S. adults aged 18 or older had prediabetes, according to the report. This condition captures individuals with higher than normal blood sugar levels which don’t yet reach the threshold of diabetes. The CDC estimated 33.9 percent of adults had prediabetes in 2015 but only 11.6 percent were aware of it.

Here are other key findings from the report:

  • Whites had the lowest rates of diagnosed diabetes (7.4 percent), followed by Asians (8 percent), Hispanics (12.1 percent), blacks (12.7 percent) and American Indians/Alaska Natives (15.1 percent).
  • Higher educational attainment was associated with lower diabetes rates—12.6 percent of people who didn’t finish high school had diabetes, compared to 9.5 percent of those who finished high school and 7.2 percent of individuals with more than a high school education.
  • Mississippi had the highest rate of diabetes among adults at 13.6 percent. Colorado had the lowest at 6.4 percent.
  • Among children aged 10-19, American Indians had the highest incidence of type 2 diabetes (46.5 cases per 100,000 people). Blacks (32.6) had the second highest, while whites (3.9) had the lowest.
  • In contrast, white children were the most likely to have type 1 diabetes (27 cases per 1,000 individuals) and American Indians were least likely (6.5 per 1,000).

“Although diabetes deaths among children and adolescents went down over time, the death rate among non-Hispanic black children and adolescents was about twice as high compared to non-Hispanic white children and adolescents during 2012–2014,” the report authors wrote. “Additional research to identify health care factors and behaviors that contribute to diabetes deaths among children and adolescents may help public health officials understand the reasons for differences by race or ethnicity, so they can focus their future prevention efforts more effectively.”

In the meantime, the authors suggested people with diabetes follow preventive care recommendations such as attending diabetes self-management classes and receiving annual foot and eye exams.