Diabetes challenges the nation’s health in many ways. As of 2012, one in 11 Americans was living with the disease, and two in five Americans will be diagnosed with it during their lifetimes. In 2009–2012, three in eight adults had prediabetes. One in three Medicare dollars is spent on people with diabetes, and diagnosed diabetes cost the United States $245 billion in 2012, a figure that had increased by 41% over the previous 5 years, while undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes cost an additional $77 billion.
The high prevalence and cost of diabetes are two reasons why it is important to control diabetes more effectively. Better control of diabetes will require a variety of actions addressing lifestyle and socioeconomic factors, screening and medical management, and public awareness. Only a population health approach will suffice because only population health takes into account health care, public health interventions, and the social and physical environments. Success in addressing diabetes would offer a blueprint of how population health efforts might succeed with other public health problems as well.