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Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D In Progress

April 2019

In This Issue: Improving Care for Veterans with Diabetes
» Table of Contents

Improving Care for Veterans with Diabetes

Overview: Diabetes–An Epidemic Challenge

Diabetes is a disease that affects how the body uses blood sugar (glucose). Chronic diabetes includes type 1 diabetes (body does not make insulin) and type 2 diabetes (body does not use insulin properly). Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include prediabetes, in which blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to qualify as diabetes; and gestational diabetes, which occurs in pregnant women and may resolve after the baby is born.

Diabetes by the numbers

  • More than 30 million people in the US have diabetes, and 1 in 4 are not aware that they have the disease.1
  • More than 84 million US adults (over one-third) have prediabetes, and 90% of these individuals are not aware that they have it.1
  • According to the US Diabetes Surveillance System, type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of the cases of diagnosed diabetes in adults.2
  • Over the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled as Americans have aged and become more overweight and obese.1
  • Among Veterans, the overall prevalence of diabetes increased from 16% in 2005-2006 to 21% in 2013-2014.3

Globally, diabetes is rising to an epidemic level – with prevalence rates in the Western Pacific region (i.e., Guam and the Marshall Islands) at 38% of the adult populations, which is why early diagnosis of diabetes and prediabetes is so essential.4


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Diabetes Quick Facts.
  2. Diabetes Surveillance Data.
  3. Liu Y, Sayam S, Shao X, et al. Prevalence of and trends in diabetes among Veterans, United States, 2005-2014. Prevalence of Chronic Disease; December 2017.
  4. Kharroubi A and Darwish H. Diabetes mellitus: The epidemic of the century. World Journal of Diabetes. June 2015;6(6):850-867.


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Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.