Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.

Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Current Health Status

Diabetes is prevalent and costly in Washington State. It was the leading cause of hospitalization for all ages (excluding childbirth) in 2013; in 2014 about 477,600 adults (9%) reported they have diabetes. Prevalence nearly doubled over the last two decades, and although it appears to have leveled since 2011, numbers still remain alarmingly high.

Importantly, there are continued increases in some high-risk subgroups including non-Hispanic black and Hispanic subpopulations and those with a high school education or less. Diagnosed diabetes costs an estimated $5 billion each year in Washington State. This includes $3.75 billion in direct medical expenses for diagnosed diabetes and $1.36 billion spent on indirect costs from lost productivity due to diabetes (in 2012 dollars).

In addition to those who already have diabetes, it is estimated that 2 million adults - more than one in three - have prediabetes, which can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. 

Diabetes Resources

Current Work and Initiatives

Emerging Issues

Health Equity Concerns

Key Data and Sources

Recommended Strategies

Population Health Driver Diagram
A Population Health Driver Diagram is a tool to organize strategies around desired change. This example, developed by a multi-sector team of partners, identifies Secondary Drivers in each of the Three Buckets of Prevention(insert hyperlink). It may be tailored to the individual needs and resources of your community and populations.

Contact Us

Contact us at P4IPH@doh.wa.gov.