The number of Americans with diabetes has increased to 26 million, and another 79 million U.S. adults are estimated to have elevated blood sugar levels indicative of prediabetes, according to a new report from the CDC.

Last year, the CDC predicted that as many as 1-in-3 Americans would develop diabetes by 2050 if current trends continue.

“These distressing numbers show how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and to help those who have diabetes manage the disease to prevent serious complications such as kidney failure and blindness,” director of the CDC’s division of diabetes translation, Ann Albright, PhD, RD, said in a press release.

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In 2008, CDC estimates put the number of Americans with diabetes at 23.6 million and those with prediabetes at 57 million. Several factors have contributed to the increases, according to the organization:

  • More people are developing diabetes.
  • People with diabetes are living longer due to better treatment and prevention of CVD risk factors, kidney failure and amputations.
  • The availability of hemoglobin A1c as a diagnostic test has enabled health care providers to detect more individuals with the disease. Because of 2011 disease estimates are not comparable to those in previous years.

The seventh leading cause of death in the United States, diabetes costs the nation $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical expenses.

“We know that a structured lifestyle program that includes losing weight and increasing physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes,” Albright said.

The CDC is currently developing the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a provision of the Affordable Care Act aimed at helping people reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.