Diabetes is a big problem—and it's about to get a whole lot bigger: The number of Americans living with the disease is projected to explode from the current rate of 1 in 10 to as much as 1 in 3 by 2050, according to a new report from the CDC. Among the reasons for the boost: More and more Americans are becoming overweight; the population of Hispanics and blacks, who have a higher risk for the disease, is growing; and improved medications are allowing those with diabetes to live longer.
The cost of such an increase will be a hefty one: Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of adult blindness, kidney failure, and limb amputation, and has been linked to everything from dementia to heart attacks to cancer. The CDC currently pegs the cost of the disease at $174 billion a year, two-thirds of which is spent on direct medical costs, reports USA Today. "There's a dual message here: prevention where it's feasible, and critical and early intervention for those already diagnosed," says the chief medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.