The projection that one-third of all U.S. adults will have diabetes by 2050 assumes that recent increases in new cases of diabetes will continue, and people with diabetes will live longer, which adds to the total number of people with the disease.
Projected increases in U.S. diabetes prevalence also reflect the growth in the disease internationally. An estimated 285 million people worldwide had diabetes in 2010, according to the International Diabetes Federation. The federation predicts as many as 438 million will have diabetes by 2030.
Diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in 2007, and is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults under age 75, kidney failure, and non-accident/injury leg and foot amputations among adults. People with diagnosed diabetes have medical costs that are more than twice that of those without the disease. The total costs of diabetes are an estimated $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical costs. About 24 million Americans have diabetes, and one-quarter of them do not know they have it.