Previous research has shown a higher instance overall of diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) among Asian and Hispanic populations vs African and European populations worldwide. However, no estimates of diabetes prevalence in Hispanic and non-Hispanic Asian populations have been made in the United States. Researchers found that there is significant variance in diabetes prevalence among racial/ethnic groups and subgroups in the United States, according to a study published in JAMA.

Data were gathered by the CDC as part of 3 cycles of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011 to 2016. Researchers interviewed participants to determine their dietary habits, socioeconomic status, and demographic information. Participants also visited a mobile examination center where researchers measured glycated hemoglobin, fasting plasma glucose, and 2-hour plasma glucose

levels. Through these measures, participants were defined as having undiagnosed diabetes, total diabetes (self-reported diagnosed or undiagnosed), or prediabetes. Race/ethnicity groups and subgroups were categorized by self-reported origins.

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Overall, 7575 participants were diagnosed with diabetes or were indicated as having undiagnosed diabetes. From that sample, 65% of participants were white, 15% were Hispanic, 11% were non-Hispanic black, 6% non-Hispanic Asian, and 3% self-identified with another group. Results showed that after adjusting for age and sex, the prevalence of total diabetes was 12.1% for non-Hispanic white, 22.1% for Hispanic, 20.4% for non-Hispanic black, and 19.1% for non-Hispanic Asian participants, with variance among subgroups. After adjusting for participant body mass index, results showed Asian participants with diabetes had lower body mass index values.

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The researchers indicate that the differences between race/ethnic groups in diabetes prevalence could be a result of physiological factors such as glucose productions or levels of glycated hemoglobin. However, such cause-effect inferences were limited by the cross-sectional nature of the study. An additional limitation was the small sample sizes for some subgroups, as well as the fact that important categorizing factors such as diabetes diagnosis and race/ethnic group identification were self-reported by participants, which could have led to misclassification. From the study, the researchers determined that diabetes prevalence varied significantly among race/ethnic groups and subgroups in the United States.


Cheng YJ, Kanaya AM, Araneta MRG, et al. Prevalence of diabetes by race and ethnicity in the United States, 2011-2016. JAMA. 2019;322(24):2389-2398.