Sneaky and silent - two adjectives health care providers use when talking about type 2 diabetes. As the American Diabetes Association states, “Diabetes imposes a substantial burden on society in the form of higher medical costs, lost productivity, premature mortality, and intangible costs in the form of reduced quality of life. 


Diabetes can affect nearly every major organ in your body, including the blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys. Diabetes puts you at a higher risk for many related health problems, including toe, foot, or leg amputation. But eventually, diabetes complications may be disabling or even life-threatening.

Children with unhealthy behaviors or chronic conditions may miss more school, which reduces their opportunities and time for learning. They may face lower academic achievement, increased disability, fewer job opportunities, and limited community interactions as they enter adulthood. We must do a lot more for our children if we plan on helping them obtain a healthy life. 


“Healthy diet and exercise are likely as strong as any medication I will ever prescribe for diabetes, and should be continued forever,” says Michael Heile, MD, a family medicine doctor at TriHealth’s Family Medical Group.

Exercise benefits people with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes by helping manage weight, by improving blood sugar levels, and by improving heart health. For a person with diabetes, exercise is just as important as diet and medication. In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity that increases the heart rate five days per week. 

It is important to design a lifelong exercise routine that is both attainable and enjoyable. If you adhere to a steady, regular program, you can expect these outcomes:

  • Increased insulin sensitivity (insulin works better)
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Increased energy and endurance throughout the day
  • Weight loss with increased muscle tone
  • A healthier heart and lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep at night
  • Stronger bones and a lower risk of osteoporosis
  • Better resistance to illness
  • Improved cholesterol, heart rate, and blood pressure levels
  • Lower stress, anxiety, boredom, frustration and depression

The American Diabetes Association recommends two different types of exercise for managing diabetes: aerobic and strength training. 


Diabetes has skyrocketed over the last 20 years and is still climbing, prompting experts to call it an epidemic.


  • PREVALENCE: In 2018, 34.2 million Americans had diabetes.
    • Nearly 1.6 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, including about 187,000 children and adolescent.
  • UNDIAGNOSED: Of the 34.2 million adults with diabetes, 26.8 million were diagnosed, and 7.3 million were undiagnosed.
  • PREVALENCE IN SENIORS: The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 14.3 million seniors (Diagnosed and Undiagnosed).
  • NEW CASES: 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year.
  • PREDIABETES:  In 2015, 88 million Americans age 18 and older had prediabetes.


  • About 210,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes.
  • In 2014—2015, the annual incidence of diagnosed diabetes in youth was estimated at 18,200 with type 1 diabetes, 5,800 with type 2 diabetes.


  • Number of deaths: 83,564
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 25.7
  • Cause of death rank: 7



Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. In 2017, diabetes was mentioned as a cause of death in a total of 270,702 certificates.


Diabetes may be underreported as a cause of death. Studies have found that only about 35% to 40% of people with diabetes who died had diabetes listed anywhere on the death certificate and about 10% to 15% had it listed as the underlying cause of death. 


Updated March 22, 2018

  • $327 Billion: Total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2017
    • $237 billion was for direct medical costs
    • $90 billion was in reduced productivity


After adjusting for population age and sex differences, average medical expenditures among people with diagnosed diabetes were 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes.


Consider These Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Diabetes:

  • Get an Adequate Amount of Sleep
  • Drink an Adequate Amount of Water
  • Maintain A Healthy Weight
  • Eat Well
  • Exercise
  • Get Screened for Type 2 Diabetes Each Year