Epidemiology of diabetes and diabetes-related complications

Anjali D. Deshpande, Marcie Harris-Hayes, Mario Schootman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

706 Scopus citations


In 2005, it was estimated that more than 20 million people in the United States had diabetes. Approximately 30% of these people had undiagnosed cases. Increased risk for diabetes is primarily associated with age, ethnicity, family history of diabetes, smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Diabetes-related complications-including cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, neuropathy, blindness, and lower-extremity amputation-are a significant cause of increased morbidity and mortality among people with diabetes, and result in a heavy economic burden on the US health care system. With advances in treatment for diabetes and its associated complications, people with diabetes are living longer with their condition. This longer life span will contribute to further increases in the morbidity associated with diabetes, primarily in elderly people and in minority racial or ethnic groups. In 2050, the number of people in the United States with diagnosed diabetes is estimated to grow to 48.3 million. Results from randomized controlled trials provide evidence that intensive lifestyle interventions can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes in high-risk individuals. In addition, adequate and sustained control of blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes-related complications in people with diabetes. Effective interventions, at both the individual and population levels, are desperately needed to slow the diabetes epidemic and reduce diabetes-related complications in the United States. This report describes the current diabetes epidemic and the health and economic impact of diabetes complications on individuals and on the health care system. The report also provides suggestions by which the epidemic can be curbed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1254-1264
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008


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