While Americans can now expect to live longer with diabetes, about two in five will develop the disease over the course of their lifetimes -- a significant jump from previous rate estimates, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers also found that black and Hispanic people are disproportionally affected, with a lifetime risk of more than 50 percent compared to the general population's 40 percent.
These findings have implications for a generation who are still children: The rate increases apply to adults, but also to those born in the first decade of the new millennium, reported Mother Jones.
"We weren't necessarily surprised that it increased, but we didn't expect it to increase this much," the study's lead author, Edward Gregg, chief of the epidemiology and statistics branch in the Division of Diabetes Translation at the CDC, told HealthDay. "Forty percent is a humbling number."
The study, which was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal, used death record data of nearly 600,000 Americans from 1985 to 2011 to determine the likelihood of developing diabetes for those born in the last quarter-century.
The researchers did not separate types of diabetes, but the vast majority of diabetes patients in the U.S. have Type 2 diabetes. Though the researchers didn't investigate causes for the rise in the disease, Type 2 diabetes is integrally linked to obesity and other illnesses associated with metabolic syndrome.
Gregg told Mother Jones that researchers calculated risk by race because they had that data available, but suggested that socioeconomic status, which is integrally linked to race, might be the more relevant factor. He pointed to an association between high school graduation status and diabetes diagnosis.
Thanks to advances in medication and treatment of both diabetes and its associated conditions, like vision loss and circulatory problems, a diabetes diagnosis does not always mean a shortened lifespan. In the general population, people with the disease now live 45 percent longer, on average, than they did in 1985. But, as MedScape reported, this could add a burden to health-care costs and disability programs.
Recently, the CDC found that one in 10 visits to a primary-care physician involved diabetes.