Diabetes by the Numbers

Health, Home & Family
on March 12, 2006

Great! You’re going to get into shape. Often, the first inclination after deciding to exercise is to purchase equipment or join a gym, but club membership and a garage full of pricey exercise paraphernalia does not equal fitness. Physical fitness is a lifelong endeavor that requires a lot of commitment and very little money. Finding and doing an activity that fits your lifestyle is more crucial to success than monies spent.

Walking is one of the best overall aerobic exercises. A comfortable, supportive walking shoe, loose fitting clothing and, depending on weather, a windbreaker, hat and gloves, and you’re ready. You also can turn on some lively music and walk in the house for 20 minutes. If your home has stairs, all the better. Briskly climbing up and down is a great workout addition. If you live near a shopping center, consider joining or starting a "mall walkers" group. And day hiking requires little more than supportive shoes and the clothes on your back. Keep an eye on the newspapers. Sporting goods stores run regular shoe sales.

Aerobic videos offer a variety of exercise routines, and store rental fees are minimal. Videos also are available in most public libraries. When you find one you like, buy it used.

Rummage through the basement for some old clothesline and try rope skipping.

If cycling appeals to body and soul, look into bike sharing with kids or grandkids. A simple seat height adjustment may be all that’s needed. Or, peruse yard sales. Once you’ve matched temperament to instrument, great exercise equipment purchases can be made in a neighbor’s backyard. Road and stationary bikes, treadmills, ski machines, rowers and stair steppers are popular yard sale items.

Weight lifting is a must for fitness. The American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal has noted, "Progressive strength training has been demonstrated to be a safe and effective form of exercise that enhances bone mineral density."

Strength training is for every "body" and every pocketbook. A total-body workout can be executed with simple hand weights. Getting started is as easy as opening the pantry and beginning your lifting program hefting two cans of chili.

When you are ready to purchase weights, avoid the brightly colored expensive variety. There’s no difference between lifting a 5-pound generic black weight or 5 pounds of chartreuse. Again, yard sales are great places to look for hand weights. Money well spent would be for a lesson or two in proper weight lifting techniques. Or, trade favors with a personal trainer. And remember to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Fitness is priceless. To maintain the commitment without cost:

  • Change your routine every few months
  • Give yourself an exercise day off each week
  • Get a friend involved

As Albert Einstein used to say, nothing happens until something moves.

Diabetes by the Numbers

Diabetes is a growing health concern in the United States. Below are statistics from the America Diabetes Association about the medical disorder.

By population

  • 20.8 million people—7 percent of the population—had diabetes in 2005. Of those, 14.6 million were diagnosed with the disease and 6.2 million were undiagnosed.
  • The number of Americans with diabetes is projected to increase to 30.3 million by the year 2030, according to World Health Organization researchers.

By disease type

  • Type 2 diabetes, often associated with older age, obesity and lack of exercise, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases.
  • Type 1 diabetes, which usually strikes children and young adults, accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all diagnosed cases.

By age

  • 20.6 million people 20 years or older—9.6 percent of all Americans in this age group—have diabetes.
  • 10.3 million people 60 years or older—20.9 percent of all Americans in this age group—have diabetes.
  • About 176,500 people under 20 years of age—representing 0.22 percent of all Americans in this age group—have diabetes.
  • One in every 400 to 600 children and adolescents have Type 1 diabetes.

By gender

  • 10.9 million men—10.5 percent of all men—20 years or older have diabetes.
  • 9.7 million women—8.8 percent of all women—20 years or older have diabetes.

By ethnicity

  • 13.1 million non-Hispanic whites—8.7 percent of all U.S. residents in this ethnic category—20 years or older have diabetes.
  • 3.2 million non-Hispanic blacks—13.3 percent of all U.S. residents in this ethnic category—20 years or older have diabetes.
  • 2.5 million Hispanic/Latino Americans—9.5 percent of all U.S. residents in this ethnic category—20 years or older have diabetes.
  • 99,500 American Indians and Alaskan Natives—12.8 percent of residents in this ethnic category—20 years or older, receiving care from Indian Health Services have diabetes.


  • In 2002, diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates. This rating was based on 73,249 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death. Altogether, diabetes contributed to 224,092 deaths.

The costs

  • In 2002, diabetes cost an estimated $132 billion, including $92 billion in direct medical expenses and $40 billion in indirect costs, such as disability, work loss and premature death.

Visit www.diabetes.org to learn more.