Issue: November 2010
November 01, 2010
2 min read

Number of new diabetes cases expected to double by 2050

Boyle JP. Popul Health Metr. 2010;doi:10.1186/1478-7954-8-29.

Issue: November 2010
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If current trends persist, the estimated annual incidence of new diabetes cases will increase dramatically and the condition will affect approximately 21% of the US adult population by 2050, recent data suggest.

The prevalence is expected to rise sharply during the next 40 years due to an aging population more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, increases in minority groups that are at high risk for type 2 diabetes and people with diabetes living longer, according to CDC projections published in Population Health Metrics. Because the study factored in aging, minority populations and lifespan, the projects are higher than previous estimates.

Future projections

To determine the future projected incidence of diabetes, researchers at the CDC and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta constructed statistical models using information on prediabetes and diabetes prevalence in the United States, incidence predictions and US Census data on mortality and migration from 1980 to 2007. Only data on adults aged 18 to 79 years were included in this analysis.

The researchers also assessed projections according to incidence level. Although results from the low-incidence scenario predicted little change, the middle-incidence scenario indicated an increase from 8.4 new diabetes cases per 1,000 people in 2008 to 14.7 per 1,000 people in 2050. An even more extreme rise from 9.2 to 22.9 per 1,000 people was observed for the high-incidence scenario.

Mortality risk was also factored into these projections. When incidence was low but mortality was high, the total prevalence of any diabetes increased from 14% in 2010 to 20.5% in 2050. Lower mortality risk, however, drove this increase up to 32.8% by 2050. Middle-ground scenarios put prevalence between 24.7% and 28.3% in 2050.

‘Alarming numbers’

While these factors suggest health care quality improvements, interventions and preventive strategies remain important to decrease the diabetes burden.

“These are alarming numbers that show how critical it is to change the course of type 2 diabetes,” Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, said in a press release. “Successful programs to improve lifestyle choices on healthy eating and physical activity must be made more widely available, because the stakes are too high and the personal toll too devastating to fail.”

Previous research yielded similar results, according to the researchers. One 2007 study involving the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002 and the NHANES III estimated a 50% increase during the next 20 years. Other studies have also highlighted diabetes as a global problem, they said, with the International Diabetes Federation estimating that as many as 438 million people will have diabetes by 2030.

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