Survey: Majority of Americans well aware of diabetes and corresponding risk factors

MINNETONKA, Minn. — A majority of Americans recognize the threat diabetes poses to the nation’s health and have a solid understanding about the disease and its consequences, according to a new survey from UnitedHealth Group released Thursday. 

UnitedHealth Group’s national survey, conducted via telephone with more than 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, found that 92% of respondents knew there is a difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and 8-in-10 recognized that Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. As many as 84% are familiar with leading diabetes risk factors including being overweight (80%), a family history of diabetes (76%), lack of exercise (74%), high blood pressure (59%), high cholesterol (58%) and being 45 years or older (48%).

However, 73% believe they will not necessarily get diabetes just because it runs in their family.

“People are taking notice that we face a public health crisis in the form of obesity, prediabetes and diabetes, so the opportunity now exists to turn awareness into actions like eating healthier, increasing physical activity, being tested for risk factors or joining prevention programs,” stated Deneen Vojta, SVP UnitedHealth Group and chief clinical officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance. “Our national conversation around the diabetes epidemic has entered a new era; it’s time national actions do the same.” 

“By 2021, about 40 million American adults will have diabetes, and another 100 million will be diagnosed with prediabetes — at a cost of  $3.5 trillion over the next decade,” added Tom Beauregard, EVP UnitedHealth Group and executive director of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform and Modernization. “Given these figures, it’s clear there is a diabetes time bomb ticking in America, due in large part to the escalating obesity rates in our country."

The UnitedHealth Group pointed to evidence that early and aggressive intervention can reverse the course of diabetes for people with prediabetes and reduce its impact on people already diagnosed. Lifestyle changes and a 5% to 7% weight reduction can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58% in people with prediabetes, the insurer noted.