For men with diabetes, estimated life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy at age 50 were 30.2 years (95% uncertainty interval [UI], 30.0-30.4) and 12.7 years (95% UI, 11.5-13.7), respectively.4 For women, estimates were 33.9 years (95% UI, 33.6-34.1) and 13.1 years (95% UI, 12.3-13.9), respectively.4

Data also indicated that the estimated loss of life expectancy associated with diabetes at age 50 was 3.2 years (95% UI, 3.0-3.4) for men and 3.1 years (95% UI, 2.9-3.4) for women compared with people without diabetes.4

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The corresponding estimated loss of disability-free life expectancy was 8.2 years (95% UI, 6.7-9.7) and 9.1 years (95% UI, 7.9-10.4), respectively, for men and women with diabetes,4 the researchers reported. Additionally, they found that women with diabetes spent a greater number of absolute years and a greater proportion of their life with disability after age 50 (61%) compared with men with diabetes (58%), women without diabetes (40%), and men without diabetes (38%).4

Results showed that at age 50, the estimated years lived with disability accounted for about 60% of total life expectancy for those with diabetes and around 40% of total life expectancy for those without diabetes.4

The researchers also noted that the gains in life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy observed across the whole population, including those with and those without diabetes, at age 50 after hypothetically eliminating diagnosed diabetes would be 0.6 and 1.8 years, respectively.4

The loss of disability-free life expectancy in patients with diabetes likely results from complications that cause problems with eyesight and movement as well as amputations or potential cognitive decline.

“The striking loss of disability-free life expectancy in diabetes reported in this study is likely to raise concern about the burden of diabetes in future decades, indicating a need to respond by implementing intervention and prevention of disability,” the researchers wrote.

Improvements in Care Necessary

In an accompanying editorial comment published with the first 2 studies, Lars C. Stene, PhD, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, Norway, highlighted the need to reduce the risk for CVD specifically.

“It seems that the gap in life expectancy has remained largely unchanged since the turn of the millennium,” Dr Stene wrote.

“There have been remarkable increases in life expectancy in the general population of Sweden, Australia, and other countries, in part because of a reduction in CV mortality. CV risk management is an integral part of diabetes care, and it is likely that patients with type 1 diabetes have enjoyed some of the beneficial developments that do not involve blood sugar control alone.”


  1. Livingstone SJ, Levin D, Looker HC, et al; for the Scottish Diabetes Research Network epidemiology group and the Scottish Renal Registry. JAMA. 2015;313(1):37-44. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.16425.
  2. Huo L, Harding JL, Peeters A, Shaw JE, Magliano DJ. Life expectancy of type 1 diabetic patients during 1997–2010: a national Australian registry-based cohort study. Diabetologia. 2016. doi:10.1007/s00125-015-3857-4.
  3. Petrie D, Lung DWC, Rawshani A, et al. Recent trends in life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes in Sweden. Diabetologia. 2016. doi:10.1007/s00125-016-3914-7.
  4. Huo L, Shaw JE, Wong E, Harding JL, Peeters A, Magliano DJ. Burden of diabetes in Australia: life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy in adults with diabetes. Diabetologia. 2016. doi:10.1007/s00125-016-3948-x.
  5. Stene LC. Gaps in life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2016. doi:10.1007/s00125-016-3943-2.