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Overview of Diabetes in the U.S.

Diabetes is a group of conditions resulting from the body's inability to make insulin, use insulin effectively, or both. Insulin helps to control the body's blood sugar (glucose) levels to ensure sufficient energy. There are different types of diabetes that can affect adults and children of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities. The types of diabetes include:

  • Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, is commonly known as juvenile or childhood diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes can occur in adults or children. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not use insulin properly.
  • Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, among pregnant women who have never had diabetes.
  • Prediabetes is having blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.

People with diabetes must monitor their blood sugar (glucose) level to keep it within a normal, healthy range. People with diabetes should manage blood sugar by checking levels multiple times per day to be sure it is not excessively high (hyperglycemia) or low (hypoglycemia). When diabetes is not well managed or left untreated, it can result in complications such as:

  • Blindness
  • Kidney disease or failure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Nerve damage
  • Circulatory problems
  • Lower-extremity amputations
  • Death

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 88 million adults in the U.S. have prediabetes. A person with prediabetes is at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 95% of all diabetes cases in the U. S. and is preventable with regular physical activity and healthy weight loss. The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends intensive lifestyle interventions for type 2 diabetes management and combined diet and physical activity programs for Type 2 diabetes prevention.

Resources to Learn More

What is Diabetes?
An overview of the most common types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Written for individuals with diabetes and their families to better address diabetes care and management.
Organization(s): National Institute of Health

Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes
Presents detailed information about the symptoms and causes of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Organization(s): National Institutes for Health

1 in 3 American Adults Has Prediabetes. Do You?
An interactive web-based risk assessment tool to help people identify if they have prediabetes.
Organization(s): Ad Council