15 States With the Highest Diabetes Rates


WRITTEN BY: Craig Sturgill

UPDATED: NOVEMBER 11, 2022 | 1 MIN READ

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes was the eighth leading cause of death among US adults in 2020. While the National Diabetes Statistics Report indicates that Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes cases are generally rising, some states report new cases at higher rates. Read more about different types of diabetes (a pre-existing condition), states with the highest rates of diabetes, disparities among demographics, risk factors, and more.

Fast Facts on Diabetes

Diabetes covers a collection of diseases characterized by elevated blood glucose levels. When someone has diabetes, their body can’t produce or use insulin—a hormone used to convert blood glucose to energy—which leaves excess blood glucose in their system.

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes: Insulin-dependent diabetes usually develops in children and adolescents but can happen in any age group. It can be treated successfully by managing blood sugar, regular checkups, and following a healthcare professional-recommended lifestyle.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children and adolescents are also developing it. It can be treated and prevented by managing blood sugar, making healthier lifestyle changes, and maintaining good physical activity.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy in people who don’t have diabetes. Gestational diabetes can be managed by following your doctor’s treatment plan.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes symptoms can start within weeks, while type 2 diabetes symptoms develop over the years. Symptoms of diabetes include but aren’t limited to:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased hunger, thirst, and urination
  • Blurred vision and fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

People with type 2 diabetes often show no symptoms until they experience diabetes-related health outcomes, such as high blood pressure, blurred vision, or cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes risk factors

Risk factors for type 1 diabetes aren’t as straightforward as prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, but family history and age can usually indicate a high risk. In the United States, non-Hispanic white people are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes than Black and Latino people.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes include obesity, physical inactivity, family history, and more. Certain ethnic groups such as Black, Latinx, American Indian, and Alaska Native people are also at a higher risk, along with Pacific Islander and Asian American groups.

The effects of diabetes

When improperly managed, diabetes is a significant cause of blindness, kidney disease and failure, heart disease and heart attacks, lower limb amputation, stroke, and more. Diabetic people are also at an increased risk of experiencing complications from other health issues, including COVID-19.

How common is diabetes in the United States?

According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, diabetes affects 37.3 million people in the US, with 28.7 million diagnosed diabetes cases and 8.5 million undiagnosed cases. About 96 million people are reported to have prediabetes: a serious health condition involving a higher-than-normal blood sugar level.

15 States With the Highest Diabetes Rates

According to the CDC, diabetes cases increased by 5.6% across the United States from 1997 to 2016. At least 10% of the population in 29 states had diabetes, with the highest rate in West Virginia. Read more about the states with the highest diabetes rates below, according to the American Diabetes Association.

West Virginia

About 232,336 people in West Virginia, or 16.2% of the state’s population, have diagnosed diabetes. An additional 45,000 have diabetes but don’t know it.

Mississippi

In Mississippi, 14.4% of the adult population (approximately 326,420 people) have been diagnosed with diabetes. About 75,000 people in Mississippi have diabetes but don’t know it.

Louisiana

Approximately 505,468 people in Louisiana (14.2% of the population) have been diagnosed with diabetes. An additional 113,000 have diabetes but have yet to be diagnosed.

Alabama

About 550,149 people in Alabama (14.1% of the state’s population) have been diagnosed with diabetes. Another 119,000 people have yet to be diagnosed.

Arkansas

In Arkansas, 321,645 people (13.9% of adults) have been confirmed diabetic. Another 70,000 people have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed yet.

Tennessee (Tied)

About 730,416 people in Tennessee (13.6% of adults in the state) are confirmed diabetic, while 158,000 others unknowingly have diabetes.

Kentucky (Tied)

Tied with Tennessee, Kentucky has about 474,456 diabetic people—13.6% of the state’s adults. Another 101,000 people have yet to be diagnosed.

South Carolina

About 13.2% of South Carolina’s adult population (531,143 people) have diabetes. An additional 123,000 people have diabetes but don’t know.

Florida

Approximately 2,164,009 Florida adults (12.5%) have diagnosed diabetes. Another 5,973,000 people have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed yet.

Texas (Tied)

Tied with Georgia, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, about 2,694,402 (12.4%) people in Texas have diabetes. An additional 621,000 people have diabetes but don’t know it yet.

Georgia (Tied)

Tied with Texas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, an estimated 1,013,358 people in Georgia, or 12.4% of the adult population, have diagnosed diabetes. About 234,000 others unknowingly have diabetes.

North Carolina (Tied)

Tied with Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma, 12.4% of North Carolina’s adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes. Another 244,000 adults unknowingly have diabetes.

Oklahoma (Tied)

Tied with Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina, 12.4% of Oklahoma’s adult population (373,824) have been diagnosed with diabetes. Another 93,000 adults unknowingly have diabetes.

Indiana (Tied)

In a tie with New Mexico, about 640,435 Indiana adults have diabetes—12.3% of the adult population. An additional 146,000 Indianians have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed.

New Mexico (Tied)

Tied with Indiana, 12.3% of New Mexico adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. An additional 53,000 adult residents have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed.

FAQs

What state has the highest number of diabetics?

Currently, the state with the highest percentage of adults with diagnosed diabetes in West Virginia, with 15.7% of its residents.

Which state has the lowest incidence of diabetes?

At just 7% of its state residents, Colorado currently has the lowest incidence of diabetes. Other states with a low rate of diabetes include Utah, Massachusetts, and Vermont.

What ethnicity has the most diabetes?

According to the American Diabetes Association, American Indians/Alaskan Natives have the most reported cases of diabetes. Next is non-Hispanic Black people at 12.1%, followed by 11.8% of Latinos, Asian Americans at 9.5%, and non-Hispanic white people at 7.4%.

What are the three most common causes of diabetes?

The most common causes of diabetes include being overweight/obese, having a high body mass index (BMI), and physical inactivity.

What is the average age of people with diabetes?

According to the CDC and other data sources, diabetes is more common among people over 45, but more young people are becoming affected by the disease.

States with High Diabetes Rates: A Recap

Diabetes diagnoses are on the rise, especially in certain states. Whether you have diabetes or not, finding the right health insurance plan makes it easier to stay on top of annual checkups, yearly tests, and more.