2012 diabetes facts & statistics infographicType 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Here are some of the key facts and statistics about type 2 diabetes.

Prevalence & Risk Factors

Type 2 Diabetes is a common and increasingly prevalent illness that is largely preventable. In adults, Type 2 Diabetes accounts for about 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; the remainder are adult-onset (or adult-diagnosed) Type 1 Diabetes, a genetic form of diabetes that is not preventable.

  • Nearly 26 million people in the United States have diabetes, 7 million of whom may be undiagnosed and unaware of their condition.
  • In adults 20 and older, more than 1 in every 10 people suffers from diabetes, and in seniors (65 and older), that figure rises to more than 1 in 4.
  • Just fewer than 2 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in U.S. adults in 2010, and prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise.

Many of the risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes include lifestyle decisions and can be eliminated or reduced with time and effort. Cases of diagnosed diabetes cost the United States an estimated $174 billion in 2007, a figure that is expected to rise with the increasing number of diagnosed individuals.

  • Men are at slightly higher risk of developing diabetes than women, but age, excess weight (particularly around the waist), family history, physical inactivity, and poor diet are also significant risk factors for the illness.
  • As many as 18% of pregnancies may be affected by gestational diabetes, up to 10% of which result in a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes in the mother immediately following the pregnancy.
  • Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy have a 35-60% percent chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes within 10-20 years of the pregnancy.
  • If either parent suffers from Type 2 Diabetes, a child’s risk of developing the disease is 15%.  If both parents have the condition, the risk of developing it is 75%.
  • Research examining fasting glucose (A1C) levels found that 35% of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older had pre-diabetes (50% of those aged 65 years or older are considered pre-diabetic); an estimated 79 million Americans aged 20 years or older have pre-diabetes. 

Ethnic Groups

Although age, genetics, and lifestyle factors are the best predictors of Type 2 Diabetes risk, certain racial or ethnic groups in the U.S. have higher rates of pre-diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes even after adjusting for these factors.

  • The percentage of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older with pre-diabetes in 2005–2008 was similar for non-Hispanic whites (35%), non-Hispanic blacks (35%), and Mexican Americans (36%).
  • Type 2 Diabetes is more prevalent amongst African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders than among Caucasians in the U.S.
  • Asian Americans have an increased risk of diabetes of 18%, Hispanics have an increased risk of 66%, and non-Hispanic blacks have a 77% higher risk of diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults in the U.S.
  • Among Hispanics, increased risk compared to U.S. non-Hispanic white adults varies significantly depending on national lineage, ranging from a 0% increased risk among Cubans and Central or South Americans to a 94% higher risk of diabetes among Puerto Ricans.
  • American Indian adults in southern Arizona have the world’s highest rates of Type 2 Diabetes, with 1 in 3 currently diagnosed.
  • Type 2 Diabetes is very rare among children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, but is still diagnosed at higher rates in many minority groups than in Caucasians, particularly among Asian/Pacific Islanders aged 10-19.


Type 2 Diabetes risk increases with age. Although the number of children diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes is increasing due to a growing number of overweight youth, it is considerably less common in children and young adults than in older individuals. Although men have a slightly increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes compared to women, this may be more significantly associated with lifestyle factors and body weight than innate gender differences.

  • Among youth aged <10 years, the rate of new cases was 0.4 per 100,000 for Type 2 Diabetes in 2002-2005. Among youth aged 10-19, the rate of new cases was 8.5 per 100,000 for Type 2 Diabetes.
  • With the exception of Asian/Pacific Islanders, Type 1 Diabetes is diagnosed with similar or substantially higher frequency than Type 2 Diabetes. 
  • In the U.S., 11.3% of all adults 20 or over have diabetes. Among adults 65 or over, 26.9% have diabetes. In comparison, children 19 and under have a rate of only 0.26%.
  • Among adult men, 11.8% (13 million in the U.S.) are diagnosed with diabetes. Among adult women, 10.8% (12.6 million in the U.S.) have diabetes.


Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise worldwide. The World Health Organization reports that over 346 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes and that 90% of people around the world who suffer from diabetes suffer from Type 2 Diabetes.

  • In 2004, high blood sugar as a result of diabetes led to an estimated 3.4 million deaths worldwide.
  • More than 8 of every 10 diabetes-related deaths occur in low and middle income countries.
  • In developing nations, more than half of all diabetes cases go undiagnosed.
  • The World Health Organization anticipates that worldwide deaths attributable to diabetes will double by 2030.
  • Adults aged 40-59 comprise the world’s age group with the highest diabetes rates, although this is expected to shift to adults aged 60-79 by 2030.


Both Type 2 Diabetes and its side effects can often be prevented or delayed. The most cost-effective prevention methods include regular physical activity and a healthy diet. Regular visits to a health care provider and maintaining a healthy weight are also essential to identifying risks, preventing Type 2 Diabetes, or delaying its onset.

Up to 85% of complications and morbidities among individuals with Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented, delayed, or effectively treated and minimized with regular visits to a health professional, appropriate monitoring and medication, and a healthy diet and lifestyle. Early identification of potential complications can provide opportunities for intervention, education, and referral to a specialist when necessary.

  • The Diabetes Prevention Program found that weight loss and increased physical activity reduced the development of Type 2 Diabetes by 58% during a 3-year study period. Amongst older subjects (those aged 60 years or older), the reduction was 71%.
  • Overweight individuals who lose even 5-7% of their body weight by exercising and healthy eating may effectively prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 Diabetes indefinitely.
  • Obtain regular checks of blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels to monitor your risk factors and work to achieve and maintain healthy levels of each. Having healthy levels of these three indicators significantly reduces your risk of diabetes.

The drug Metformin was found to reduce the risk of diabetes onset by 31%, particularly in younger (aged 25–44 years) and heavier adults (those with body mass index over 35) considered pre-diabetic.

Complications & Effects

The problems associated with Type 2 Diabetes are common and can be severe. Side effects and comorbidities of the illness can include heart disease, stroke, hypertension, blindness and eye problems, kidney disease, nervous system complications, amputations, dental disease, pregnancy complications, and mental health problems (such as depression).

  • Individuals with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely than the general population to die from heart disease or to experience a stroke.
  • More than two-thirds of U.S. adults with diabetes had hypertension or reported using medication for high blood pressure in 2005-2008.
  • Nearly 30% of diabetics suffered from diabetic retinopathy in 2005-2008, 4.4% of which were severe enough to threaten vision.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of newly diagnosed adult (20-74 years of age) blindness in the U.S.
  • Diabetes caused 44% of all newly diagnosed kidney failures in 2008, with nearly 50,000 diabetics entering treatment for end stage kidney disease.
  • In 2008, over 200,000 diabetics in the U.S. were on chronic dialysis or living with a kidney transplant as the result of end stage kidney disease.
  • Diabetes causes mild loss of sensation in extremities in as many as 70% of diabetic adults. When this loss of sensitivity occurs, amputations of lower extremities may be necessary; more than 60% of all non-traumatic amputations of lower limbs occur in diabetics.
  • Approximately 1 in 3 diabetics suffers from severe periodontal disease.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy can increase the chance of birth defects, large babies, and other complications that can be dangerous to the baby and the mother.
  • Individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from depression as individuals without a diabetes diagnosis.
  • In 2007, diabetes was listed as the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the contribution of diabetes to death is likely to be dramatically underreported on death certificates.
  • Diabetics have twice the risk of death of any cause compared to individuals of the same age without diabetes.