ö Diabetes at Work
Making the Business Case


  • Nearly 21 million Americans have diabetes, and about one-third of them don’t know that they have the disease.
  • By 2050, an estimated 39 million U.S. residents are expected to have diagnosed diabetes.
  • American Indians, African Americans, and Hispanics are about 2 times more likely than whites to have diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes, once believed to affect only adults, is being diagnosed increasingly among young people.
  • One in three U.S. children born in 2000 could develop diabetes during their lifetime.
  • Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death. Over 200,000 people die each year of diabetes-related complications.
  • Diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure, new blindness in adults, and leg and foot amputations unrelated to injury.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke, which are responsible for about 65% of deaths among people with diabetes.
  • About 18,000 women with preexisting diabetes deliver babies each year, and 135,000 expectant mothers learn they have gestational diabetes. Diabetes increases a woman’s risk for pregnancy complications and increases her child’s risk for obesity and diabetes later in life.
  • Diabetes is most common among people aged 65–74 and least common among people under age 45, regardless of race, ethnicity or sex.
  • An estimated 41 million Americans have a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes—a condition known as pre-diabetes. People with pre-diabetes have impaired fasting glucose (IFG), impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), or both.


  • Total costs (direct and indirect): $132 billion
  • Direct medical costs: $92 billion
  • Indirect costs: $40 billion (disability, work loss, premature death)
  • Average health care costs per year: $13,243 for a person with diabetes vs. $2,560 for a person without diabetes

These data are based on a study by the Lewin Group, Inc., for the American Diabetes Association and are 2002 estimates of both the direct (cost of medical care and services) and indirect costs (costs of short-term and permanent disability and of premature death) attributable to diabetes. This study used a specific cost-of-disease methodology to estimate the health care costs due to diabetes.


  • Regular eye exams and timely treatment could prevent up to 90% of diabetes-related blindness
  • Foot care programs that include regular examinations and patient education could prevent up to 85% of diabetes-related amputations
  • Treatment to better control blood pressure can reduce heart disease and stroke by 33%–50% and diabetes-related kidney failure by 33%
This page last modified: November 17, 2023
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.