Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

1 in 8 Americans Diagnosed With Type 2 Diabetes

Harris Interactive/HealthDay

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Amanda Gardner

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- A staggering one in eight Americans has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll suggests.

And more than one third of those polled have been diagnosed with diabetes or have a parent, sibling, spouse or child with the condition.

"Type 2 diabetes has become one of the most common and fastest growing diseases. Fully one in eight adults -- approximately 29 million people -- now report that they have been diagnosed with this dangerous condition," said Harris Poll Chairman Humphrey Taylor.

Added Dr. Ronald Tamler, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York City: "Diabetes is very insidious. You don't know you're in trouble until the complications hit or until it's so out of control you have uncontrolled urination and thirst" -- two of the common symptoms of diabetes.

While type 2 diabetes is occurring in epic proportions, the new poll also found that awareness of the disease is still surprisingly low, with only 21 percent of those surveyed considering themselves well-versed on the disease. That means the remaining 79 percent may not know they're at risk or may already have the disease, which is known as the "silent" killer.

But people already diagnosed with diabetes tend to be much more aware of the health risks, with slightly more than two-thirds considering themselves either "extremely" or "very" knowledgeable about the disease, the poll found.

Still, 35 percent of respondents with diabetes said their diabetes was only "somewhat" controlled and 5 percent said it was "not at all" well controlled.

"Because diabetes is a chronic condition, the treatment of which is critically dependent on patient behavior and self-care, this may be the most alarming finding," Taylor said.

On a more encouraging note, many people polled do understand that a number of factors can contribute to type 2 diabetes, including being overweight (79 percent of respondents realize this is a risk factor), diet (74 percent) and physical inactivity (62 percent).

These numbers were greater among people who had been diagnosed with diabetes.

Interestingly, 60 percent of respondents know that genetics can be a component of type 2 diabetes.

"We have a public perception that type 2 diabetes is entirely a disease of lifestyle and that is not true," said Dr. Robert Ratner, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association. "There is no question that lifestyle contributes to it, but the problem is one of biology . . . Environment really does play a role but the biology sets them up."

Indeed, certain ethnic groups, including many Native American tribes, bear a disproportionate diabetes burden, Ratner added.

Most adults, whether they actually have diabetes or not, seem fairly knowledgeable about the long-term consequences of the disease, which can include amputation of limbs, blindness, kidney disease and heart disease, the poll found.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article