Diabetes by Age and Race

The diabetes epidemic extends to 26 million Americans, 8.3 percent of the population. The Southern states have the highest rates of diagnosed diabetes, while no particular region of the country stands out with the lowest rates.  As the nation’s population ages, more people are diagnosed with this disease, currently the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.  African-Americans are two times more likely to die from diabetes that whites.

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Nearly 26 million people, or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes. The chronic disease is the seventh-leading cause of death and the primary cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations and new cases of blindness among adults across the country. Overall, the risk of premature death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people without the disease.1

Annually, diabetes costs the U.S. about $116 billion in direct medical costs and $58 billion in indirect costs through disabilities, work loss and premature mortality. Medical expenses for people with diabetes are more than two times higher than for individuals without diabetes.2
Regions of the country differ when looking at diabetes diagnoses by age.
  • Higher proportions of the population in Southern states are diagnosed with diabetes. Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia have the highest percentages of diabetes diagnoses at 11 percent of their respective populations, followed closely by Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas at 10 percent. Puerto Rico is the only other state or territory with a double-digit diabetes rate. 
  • No particular region stands out with particularly low diabetes rates.

    • Several Western states—Alaska, Colorado, Montana and South Dakota—have low rates of diabetes.
A combination of established state public health policies have helped Connecticut, Minnesota and Vermont to have the smallest populations with diabetes.
  • Health policies in Connecticut and Vermont mandate health insurance to cover diabetes testing, treatment and self-management, while all three states require coverage of medication, education and services used to treat the disease.3
As the nation’s population ages, more people are diagnosed with diabetes.
  • People are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease between the ages of 64-75 (20 percent), followed by people over 75 (18 percent).
  • People in the 18-to-44 age range are diagnosed least often; 2 to 5 percent of this population has been diagnosed with diabetes.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the more troubling aspects of the diabetes epidemic is the increasing incidence among children who develop the disease.4 Although current percentages are relatively low, the overall incidence rate is 24.3 of 100,000 children under age 20 each year. 
Racial and ethnic health disparities exist in the mortality rates of diabetes between whites and African-Americans.
  • African-Americans are two times more likely to die from diabetes (40.5 per 100,000) than whites (19.9 per 100,000).
  • The mortality gap between whites and African-Americans is highest in Nebraska where African-Americans are 2.8 times more likely to die from diabetes than whites, followed by Mississippi where African-Americans are 2.7 times more likely to die from diabetes than whites, and South Carolina, 2.6 times more likely to die.
  • Every state for which CDC data are available has a racial disparity in the mortality rate of diabetes for whites and blacks.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2011.” 
2 Ibid 
3 National Conference of State Legislatures. “Diabetes Health Coverage: State Laws and Programs.” 
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Children and Diabetes: SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth.” 




diabetes_age_race.xls43 KB
ff_diabetesraceage.pdf398.26 KB