What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the name given to disorders in which the body has trouble regulating its blood-glucose, or blood-sugar, levels. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.


Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes: Not the Same

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. T1D usually strikes in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, and lasts a lifetime. Just to survive, people with T1D must take multiple injections of insulin daily or continually infuse insulin through a pump.

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a metabolic disorder in which a person’s body still produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively. T2D is usually diagnosed in adulthood and does not always require insulin injections. However, increased obesity has led to a recent rise in cases of T2D in children and young adults.

Taking insulin does not cure any type of diabetes, nor does it prevent the possibility of the disease’s devastating effects: kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, heart attack, stroke, and pregnancy complications

The Scale of Diabetes

• Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes (8.3% of the population) 1

• Diagnosed: 18.8 million

• Undiagnosed: 7 million

• As many as three million Americans may have T1D 2

• Diabetes currently affects more than 371 million people worldwide and is expected to affect 552 million by 2030 3

• In the U.S., a new case of diabetes is diagnosed every 30 seconds; more than 1.9 million people are diagnosed each year 4

The National Cost of Diabetes

• Diabetes is one of the costliest chronic diseases.

• Type 1 diabetes accounts for $14.9 billion in healthcare costs in the U.S. each year5, while all types of diabetes combine to account for $245 billion in annual costs 6

• The annual cost for healthcare was $11,700 for each person with diabetes in the U.S. in 2009, compared to $4,400 for each person without diabetes 7

• Americans with diabetes incur medical expenses that are approximately 2.3 times higher than those incurred by Americans without diabetes 6

• The average annual medical costs of children and teens with diabetes in the U.S. is $9,000, compared to about $1,500 for those who don’t have diabetes 8

1 CDC: cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/factsheet11.htm
2 Type 1 Diabetes, 2010; Prime Group for JDRF, Mar. 2011
3 IDF: idf.org/diabetesatlas/5e/Update2012
4 NIDDK: diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/PUBS/statistics/#fast
5 The Economics of Diabetes in the United States, 2009; Lewin Group for Novo Nordisk: diabetesbarometer-us.com/downloadable-resources/economic/Economic-Research-Articles.pdf
6 Economic Cost of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2012, ADA: diabetes.org/for-media/2013/annual-costs-of-diabetes-2013.html
7 The United States of Diabetes: Challenges and Opportunities in the Decade Ahead, 2010; United Health Group: unitedhealthgroup.com/hrm/UNH_WorkingPaper5.pdf
8 Diabetes Care: care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/5/1097.abstract

*Information courtesy of JDRF