Diabetes rates have nearly doubled in 20 years

People of color especially at risk


The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) estimates that about 80,000 adults in Minnesota may have diabetes without knowing it. Given the seriousness of the disease, the Minnesota Department of Health is encouragingMinnesotans to ask themselves whether they are at risk for diabetes and to take steps to improve their health.

The percentage of adults in Minnesota who are living with diabetes nearly doubled between 1994 and 2010, and these numbers under-represent the true number of people living with the condition. About 290,000 adults in Minnesota, or 7.3 percent, say they have been told by their healthcare team they have diabetes.

National data show that only 75 percent of adults with diabetes know that they have the disease. Given Minnesota’s population, about 80,000 Minnesotans might have the disease without being aware of it.

“Given the alarming increase of diabetes, we are encouraging Minnesotans to think about whether they or someone they love might have diabetes or pre-diabetes and not even know about it,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “Diabetes is a very treatable disease, and it is important that everyone with diabetes takes steps to get their blood sugar under control and lead a healthier life.”

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and often does not have symptoms. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight, being older, and for women, having had gestational diabetes during a pre

MSR Health

gnancy, and having pre-diabetes. People of color and American Indians also have a higher risk of developing diabetes.

As a first step, Minnesotans can take a simple paper or online test to see if they are at risk for diabetes or pre-diabetes, at the website www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/prevention/diabetes-risk-test/. If you have a score of five or more, talk with your healthcare provider to decide if additional tests are needed.

Pre-diabetes is a warning sign for diabetes and occurs when blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at increased risk of developing diabetes. National studies suggest about one-third of Americans have pre-diabetes, which translates to around 1.4 million adults in Minnesota. Most people with pre-diabetes do not know they have it.

For overweight people with pre-diabetes, losing even a small amount of weight and increasing physical activity can make a big difference. These steps can reduce diabetes risk, delaying or preventing onset of the disease. The MDH also encourages people at risk to get involved with the Diabetes Prevention Program.

Individuals can participate in this year-long program that helps people to make lifestyle changes that can reduce diabetes risks. Many organizations in Minnesota offer this program. Listings can be found at www.icanpreventdiabetes.org.


Diabetes background

Diabetes is a set of diseases with many different causes. All people with diabetes have high levels of blood sugar. Diabetes develops when the body cannot make insulin, a hormone that helps cells to use blood sugar (glucose) for energy, or if the insulin cannot be used properly.

Most people talk about three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 tend to be life-long conditions, but the causes differ. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and goes away after pregnancy for most women. However, women who had gestational diabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.

Over time, high levels of blood sugar from diabetes can damage the body and lead to problems like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, dental problems, and many other conditions. For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar is a powerful way to prevent these health problems.


To learn more about diabetes and pre-diabetes in Minnesota, visit the MDH website and recently released fact sheets on diabetes and pre-diabetes at www.health.state.mn.us/diabetes/.

From the Minnesota Department of Health