Differences in Diabetes Prevalence, Incidence, and Mortality Among the Elderly of Four Racial/Ethnic Groups: Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians

  1. A. Marshall McBean, MD, MSC1,
  2. Shuling Li, MS2,
  3. David T. Gilbertson, PHD2 and
  4. Allan J. Collins, MD23
  1. 1Division of Health Services Research and Policy, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  2. 2Nephrology Analytic Services, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  3. 3Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to A. Marshall McBean, MD, MSc, Division of Health Services Research and Policy, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, MMC 97, Mayo Memorial Building, 420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: mcbea002{at}umn.edu


OBJECTIVE—To examine diabetes prevalence, incidence, and mortality from 1993 to 2001 among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries ≥67 years of age.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—This study was a retrospective analysis of a 5% random sample of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries ≥65 years of age in each year.

RESULTS—In 1993, the prevalence of diabetes among those ≥67 years of age was 145 cases per 1,000 individuals. By 2001, it was 197/1,000, an increase of 36.0%. The 2001 prevalence among Hispanics (334/1,000) was significantly higher than among blacks (296/1,000), Asians (243/1,000), and whites (184/1,000, P < 0.0001). During the 7-year period the greatest increase in diabetes prevalence was among Asians (68.0%). Between 1994 and 2001, the annual rate of newly diagnosed elderly individuals with diabetes increased by 36.9%. Hispanics had the greatest increase at 55.0%. The mortality rate among individuals with diabetes decreased by ∼5% between 1994 and 2001 from 92.1/1,000 to 87.2/1,000 (P < 0.001), due to a 6% decrease among whites. No decrease in mortality was seen among elderly individuals without diabetes, it was 55/1,000 in 1994 and 54/1,000 in 2001.

CONCLUSIONS—The dramatic increase in the incidence and prevalence of diabetes likely reflect a combination of true increases, as well as changes in the diagnostic criteria and increased interest in diagnosing and appropriately treating diabetes in the elderly. Improved treatment may have had an impact on mortality rates among individuals with diabetes, although they could have been influenced by the duration of diabetes before diagnosis, which has likely decreased. Changes in incidence, prevalence, and mortality in elderly individuals with diabetes need to continue to be monitored.


  • A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

    • Accepted July 17, 2004.
    • Received March 17, 2004.
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