Type 2 diabetes remains the most common type of diabetes diagnosed in American adults, but rates are increasing among both disease subtypes, according to a new study.
 
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, used data from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to determine how many adults have each type of diabetes in the United States. The prevalence of diabetes among US adults has been reported in previous studies, but data on the prevalence by subtype have been relatively unknown.
 
Individuals with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have difficulties producing insulin and require treatment with it for survival. Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease, type 2 can be prevented through lifestyle changes.  
 
According to the study, the annual incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among US children and adolescents between 2002 and 2012 increased by 1.4% and 7.1%, respectively. As treatments have improved for type 1 diabetes, more adults with childhood onset of the disease have longer lifespans. Because of this, continued monitoring of the prevalence for both types of the disease is important, the researchers noted.
 
“Type 1 diabetes used to be lethal for children years ago and so children who had the disease had shorter lifespans,” study author Wei Bao, assistant professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health, said in a press release about the findings. “Now, treatment has been improved to be so effective that a lot of children will survive well into adulthood.”
 
Among the 58,186 included adults, 6317 had received a diagnosis of diabetes. Based on the data, the researchers found that 8.5% of American adults have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and .5% with type 1 diabetes. Among those diagnosed with diabetes, 91.2% have type 2 diabetes and 5.6% have type 1 diabetes.
 
Type 1 diabetes was more prevalent among young adults and individuals with lower education levels, and type 2 diabetes was more prevalent among older adults, men, and those with lower educational level, lower family income level, and higher body mass index.
 
According to the study, further investigations should focus on the reasons for disparities in prevalence among subpopulations. The researchers noted that the findings can help health care professionals and policy makers develop more informed decisions on allocating resources to treat each disease type.
 
“Continued monitoring is needed to examine dynamic changes in the prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and their proportion in people with a diagnosis of diabetes in the US general population,” the researchers concluded.
 
References
 
Xu G, Liu B, Sun Y, et al. Prevalence of diagnosed type 1 and type 2 diabetes among US adults in 2016 and 2017: population based study. BMJ. 2018. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1497
 
Study reveals current rates of diagnosed type 1 and type 2 diabetes in American adults [news release]. University of Iowa. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-09/uoi-srt091718.php. Accessed September 18, 2018.