Type 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 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes; the remainder are adult-onset (or adult-diagnosed) type 1 diabetes, a  form of diabetes for which the cause is unknown.

  • 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes, 8.1 million of whom may be undiagnosed and unaware of their condition.
  • In adults 20 and older, more than one in every 10 people suffers from diabetes, and in seniors (65 and older), that figure rises to more than one in four.
  • 1.7 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in U.S. adults in 2012, and the 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 $245 billion in 2012, 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.
  • Although the exact prevalence is unknown, 4.6-9.2 percent of pregnancies may be affected by gestational diabetes, up to 10 percent 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 to 60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 to 20 years following the pregnancy.
  • In general, a child has a 1 in 7 chance of developing diabetes if one parent was diagnosed before age 50. A child has a 1 in 13 chance if the parent was diagnosed after age 50. Some studies suggest that the child's risk of developing diabetes is greater if the mother has diabetes. If both parents have diabetes, the child's risk of developing it is approximately 50 percent. 
  • Research suggests that 1 out of 3 adults has pre-diabetes. Of this group, 9 out of 10 people don't know that they 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 United States have higher rates of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes even after adjusting for these factors.

  • Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent amongst Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans than among Caucasians in the United States.
  • Asian Americans have a nine percent higher risk of diabetes. Hispanics have a 12.8 percent higher risk, and non-Hispanic blacks have a 13.2 percent higher risk of diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults in the United States.
  • Among Hispanics, there are more adults diagnosed than compared to U.S. non-Hispanic white adults, and this varies significantly depending on national lineage. Currently, the rate of diagnosed diabetes is 8.5 percent for Central and South Americans, 9.3 percent for Cubans, 13.9 percent for Mexican Americans, and 14.8 percent for Puerto Ricans.
  • American Indian adults in southern Arizona have the world’s highest rates of type 2 diabetes, with one in three 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 ages 10 to 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 age <10 years, the rate of new cases was 0.8 per 100,000 for type 2 diabetes in 2008–2009. Among youth ages 10 to 19, the rate of new cases of type 2 diabetes was 11.0 per 100,000.
  • In the United States, as of 2012, 9.3 percent of all adults 20 or over have diabetes. Among adults 65 or over, 25.9 percent have diabetes. In comparison, children 19 and under have a rate of only 0.26 percent.


Type 2 diabetes is on the rise worldwide. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reports that as of 2013 there were more than 387 million people living with diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 90 percent 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 eight 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.
  • WHO anticipates that worldwide deaths attributable to diabetes will double by 2030.
  • Adults ages 40 to 59 comprise the world’s age group with the highest diabetes rates, although this is expected to shift to adults ages 60 to 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 healthcare provider and maintaining a healthy weight are also essential to identifying risks, preventing type 2 diabetes, and delaying its onset.

Up to 85 percent 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 percent during a three-year study period. Amongst older subjects (those age 60 years or older), the reduction was 71 percent.
  • Overweight individuals who lose even five to seven percent of their body weight through 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 percent, particularly in younger (ages 25 to 44 years) and heavier adults (those with a 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).

  • The global epidemiology of diabetes-related complications is difficult to assess due to differing and incomplete population surveys. WHO estimates that 50 percent of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease, primarily heart disease and stroke.
  • More than 71 percent of U.S. adults (18 and older) with diabetes had hypertension or reported using medication to treat hypertension.
  • There were 7,686 cases of diabetic retinopathy in the United States in 2010.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of newly diagnosed adult (20 to 74 years of age) blindness in the United States.
  • Diabetes was the primary cause of kidney failure in 44 percent of all new cases in 2011. During the same year it was also reported that 228,924 people (all age groups) began treatment for kidney failure due to diabetes
  • Diabetes causes mild loss of sensation in extremities in as many as 70 percent 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 people with diabetes.
  • Approximately 73,000 lower-limb amputations were performed in diabetics age 20 and older.
  • 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 2010, diabetes was listed as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, 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.