The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29.1 million Americans today have diabetes. While diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., most cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable. Diabetes can be prevented by healthy eating, weight management, and an active lifestyle — factors which vary heavily by geography. An estimated 8.7% of adults in the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area have diabetes, less than the national share of 9.3% and the third smallest share in Illinois.
According to the CDC, more than one in three Americans is prediabetic. A person with prediabetes has blood sugar levels higher than normal, and is 15% to 30% more likely to develop diabetes within five years. Prediabetes is mostly caused by lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, as well as risk factors such as age and family history. In Chicago, some 20.9% of adults do not exercise outside of work, lower than the national share of 23.0% inactive Americans.
In inactive lifestyle can affect the likelihood of excess body fat, and a low share of inactive residents often results in a low obesity rate. In Chicago, however, 26.4% of residents are obese, roughly similar to the national rate of 27.0% and the lowest of any Illinois metro area.
Residents of Chicago are also less likely to engage in other unhealthy behaviors. For example, the city’s 15.5% smoking rate is lower than than the corresponding national rate of 17.0%.
Diabetes is often more prevalent in low-income areas where residents tend to have lower education levels. Individuals living in impoverished neighborhoods are less likely to have adequate access to healthy food, opportunities for exercise, or preventative health care. According to one study, residents of poor neighborhoods are up to twice as likely to have diabetes than those in wealthy neighborhoods.
In the Chicago metro area, the typical household earns $63,153 annually, roughly $7,400 more than the national median household income of $55,775. An estimated 36.0% of adults in Chicago have a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than the national college attainment rate of 30.6% and the third highest of any city in Illinois.
Diabetes increases the risk of blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and stroke. Ultimately, the risk of death is 50% higher for adults with diabetes than those without. Diabetes causes 76,600 deaths in the U.S. annually, or roughly 24 per 100,000 Americans. Overall, an estimated 474 in 100,000 Americans die prematurely before the age of 75 each year. In the Chicago metro area, there are 315 deaths per 100,000 metro area residents, more than the national mortality rate and the third lowest of any city in Illinois.