There has been an increase in years spent with diabetes due to trends of continued increases in the incidence of diagnosed diabetes combined with declining mortality, according to research published online in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Edward W. Gregg, PhD, from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues linked mortality data and diabetes incidence data obtained from the National Health Interview Survey for 598,216 adults (1985 to 2011). Cohorts were classified as 1985 to 1989, 1990 to 1999 and 2000 to 2011. Gestational diabetes was excluded.

The researchers found that the lifetime risk of diagnosed diabetes from age 20 years was 40.2% for men and 39.6% for women based on 2000 to 2011 data, representing increases of 20 and 13 percentage points, respectively, since 1985 to 1989. 

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Hispanic men and women, and non-Hispanic black women, for whom lifetime risk now exceeds 50%, had the highest lifetime risks. 

When diagnosed at age 40 years, the number of life-years lost to diabetes decreased from 7.7 years in 1990 to 1999 to 5.8 years in 2000 to 2011 in men and from 8.7 to 6.8 years in women over the same period.

Due to the increasing diabetes prevalence, the average number of years lost because of diabetes for the population as a whole increased by 46% in men and 44% in women. Years spent with diabetes increased by 156% in men and by 70% in women.

“As the number of diabetes cases continue to increase and patients live longer there will be a growing demand for health services and extensive costs. More effective lifestyle interventions are urgently needed to reduce the number of new cases in the USA and other developed nations,” Dr. Gregg said in a press release.”

In a linked comment, Lorrainse Lipscombe, MD, of Women’s College Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada, noted that the diabetes prevalence observed in the study conducted by Gregg and colleagues is likely similar across the developed world. Prevention efforts involving lifestyle changes are therefore extremely important, although “provision of these interventions on an individual basis may not be sustainable.”

“Only a population-based approach to prevention can address a problem of this magnitude. Prevention strategies should include optimization of urban planning, food-marketing policies, and work and school environments that enable individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices,” Lipscombe wrote.

“With an increased focus on interventions aimed at children and their families, there might still be time to change the fate of our future generations by lowering their risk of type 2 diabetes.”


  1. Gregg EW et al. Lancet. 2014;doi:10.1016/ S2213-8587(14)70161-5.
  2. Lipscombe L et al. Lancet. 2014;doi:10.1016/ S2213-8587(14)70172-X.