According to recent estimates, the total number of Americans with diabetes will almost double in the next 25 years -- from the current 23.7 million to 44.1 million in 2034. Annual costs for treating those patients are expected to soar, nearly tripling from the current $113 billion to some $336 billion.
The figures are, if anything, on the conservative side, since they are based on the notion that obesity levels will plateau, and even decline, by 2033. If actual prevalence outpaces these estimates, the cases of diabetes, and resulting costs, could be even higher.
Past estimates often dramatically underestimated just how quickly the problem would grow. Figures from 1991 projected that some 11.6 million Americans would have diabetes by 2030. In fact, that's fewer than half of the total number of Americans with diabetes right now.