November 30, 2009
1 min read

Diabetes population projected to exceed 44 million in next 25 years

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The number of people with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes and related costs are expected to double between 2009 and 2034, researchers projected.

During the next 25 years, the diabetes population is estimated to increase from 23.7 million to 44.1 million and annual diabetes-related spending is expected to increase from $113 billion to $336 billion.

Researchers arrived at these estimates using a population-level model of people aged 24 to 85 years included in the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and National Health Interview Survey. The model simulates movement across BMI categories, the incidence of diabetes and screening and the natural history of diabetes and its complications over the next 25 years, according to the researchers.

“Our study strongly suggests that diabetes will grow in the coming decades, both in population size and costs, and will have significant impacts on the lives of Americans and the financial viability of programs like Medicare,” the researchers wrote in Diabetes Care.

The Medicare-eligible diabetes population is projected to increase from 8.2 million in 2009 to 14.6 million in 2034. Moreover, diabetes-related Medicare spending is estimated to rise from $45 billion to $171 billion.

“Based on these estimates, Medicare spending alone will represent just over 50% of direct spending on diabetes in 2034,” they wrote.

The researchers estimated that overall diabetes-related costs “will be influenced by the demographic shifts in the population, population-level trends in obesity, the development and dissemination of new diabetes-related treatments and diagnostic tests.”

Projections indicate that the obesity distribution of people without diabetes will remain stable, with about 65% of the population being overweight or obese.

The researchers noted several limitations, including changes in the screening rate for diabetes and not accounting for people aged 24 years and younger.

Huang ES. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:2225-2229.