Why do we measure diabetes?

Diabetes is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. and type 2 diabetes makes up the majority of diabetes cases. With this condition, the body loses its ability to regulate blood sugar levels because of resistance to the hormone insulin.(2,3) Family history of the disease, physical inactivity, and obesity put one at risk for type 2 diabetes.(3) It is highly linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, stroke, and vision and nerve damage.(4) However, when diagnosed early enough, it can be reversed. Otherwise, it can be treated with medication and healthy behavioral changes—highlighting the need for access to primary health services.(5)

Only 5% of diabetes cases are type 1, which is not associated with health behaviors and occurs when the body’s immune system destroys cells that make insulin.(2,3)

How do we measure diabetes?

This metric includes adults, aged 18 or older, who report having been told they have diabetes.

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

It is better to measure the prevalence of adults living with diabetes than deaths from the disease, because it is difficult to identify diabetes as the underlying cause of death.

Approximately 1 in 4 cases of diabetes are undiagnosed, which suggests that this metric is an underestimation.(1)

This metric does not include children.

The metric is self-reported and depends on the accuracy of the person surveyed.


Diabetes is calculated by the following formula:

Diabetes Formula

This metric includes both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but excludes gestational diabetes.

This metric was calculated by aggregating estimates from smaller geographies to the congressional district level. For more information, please refer to the Congressional District Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from one year modeled PLACES Project Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Years of Collection

Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2021, 1 year modeled estimate.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Quick Facts 2017; https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/quick-facts.html. Accessed January 16, 2018.

  2. American Heart Association. About Diabetes. 2018; http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/Diabetes/AboutDiabetes/About-Diabetes_UCM_002032_Article.jsp#.Wl5qK66nG2w. Accessed January 16, 2018.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA2011.

  4. American Heart Association. Why Diabetes Matters. 2018; http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/Diabetes/WhyDiabetesMatters/Why-Diabetes-Matters_UCM_002033_Article.jsp#.Wl5uBa6nG2w. Accessed January 16, 2018.

  5. American Heart Association. Prevention & Treatment of Diabetes. 2018; http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/Diabetes/PreventionTreatmentofDiabetes/Prevention-Treatment-of-Diabetes_UCM_002036_Article.jsp#.Wl5u8q6nG2w. Accessed January 16, 2018.

Last updated: February 20, 2024