National Study Finds Diabetes Growing Fastest Among 18- to 34-year-olds

Diabetes outpaces heart disease, substance abuse and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease according to recent study

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Diabetes rates have nearly doubled in the past three decades, ranking it third in overall health impact in the U.S. Affecting quality of life of 30.3 million Americans and ultimately increasing cost across the health care system, a new study released by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows that diabetes has increased most rapidly among people ages 18 through 34. According to the study, young adults have experienced a 4.7 percent growth in diabetes from 2013 through 2015 - a direct correlation between this age group’s spike in obesity rates and a key contributor to the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

The report, “Diabetes and the Commercially Insured U.S. Population,” represents an analysis of the BCBS Health Index data which investigates diabetes related claims data of more than 40 million BCBS members covered by their employer. 

"This report highlights the health impact diabetes has on people’s longevity and overall quality of life,” said Dr. Richard Popiel, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Regence. “Historically, health plans use claims data to recognize and deliver resources to people with chronic illnesses and diabetes is no different. Regence works to provide members with services, tools and information allowing them to make informed decisions and better understand their options on preventing or managing diabetes."

Other BCBSA findings include:

  • Diabetes accounts for 9.3 percent of the health impact of more than 200 conditions, greater than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, breast cancer and asthma combined.
  • Diabetes has the highest health impact on communities in the Southeast and Central South regions, approximately 30 percent higher than New England and the Pacific Northwest, the regions with the lowest diabetes impact.

At a regional level, Regence health plan data shows Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes affects:  

  • 3.3 percent of total members in Idaho
  • 3.8 percent of total members in Oregon
  • 3.5 percent of total members in Utah
  • 5.3 percent of total members in Washington

Helping prevent increased cases of diabetes through education and community outreach is a key priority and Regence will continue its work to help improve access to medical care and promote healthy lifestyle options in their communities.

For more information, visit https://www.bcbs.com/the-health-of-america/reports.

About Regence
Regence serves more than 2.4 million members through Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield (select counties in Washington). Each health plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit regence.com.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for one in three Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit BCBS.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out the BCBS Blog for up-to-date information about BCBSA.