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Diabetes in Texas

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in our nation.

Texas has one of the highest rates of diabetes which has increased by 40% over the past decade. According to the Texas Demographic Center, the number of persons with diabetes is projected to quadruple to nearly 8 million by 2040, while the prevalence may double to 23.8%.

From 1999-2019, Texas diabetes rates have constantly surpassed the national average. In 2019, 12.9% of Texans had Diabetes compared to 10.9% of Americans as a whole (CDC, BRFSS, 2018).

In 2015, the Texas Demographics Center reported that their findings indicated that areas in West Texas and the Panhandle, North Texas and parts of Central Texas were below the US prevalence for diabetes. Further findings suggest that diabetes prevalence is unevenly distributed across the state but mostly concentrated in East Texas.

According to the U.S. Diabetes Surveillance System, the top 3 Texas Counties with the highest diabetes prevalence were Rusk at 13%, Nacogdoches at 12.7% and Wichita at 12.3%. 

In Texas, certain populations have a higher prevalence of diabetes. The chart below shows how diabetes prevalence increases as educational attainment decreases.

American Indians/Alaskan Natives—14.7

The American Diabetes Association reported findings on the diabetes rates by racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The highest rates were found among American Indians/Alaskan Natives (14.7%), Hispanics (12.5%) and Non-Hispanic Blacks (11.7%).

The American Diabetes Association’s 2017 standards for tailoring treatment to reduce disparities of medical care for diabetes included recognizing that food insecurity is a factor that complicates diabetes management. 

A suggested approach for providers of diabetic patients is to help patients and parents of patients with diabetes to more regularly obtain nutritious food. The National Diabetes Education program reported that food insecure adults are less likely to eat vegetables and less likely to replace a high fat diet. Another finding stated that food insecurity has been associated with 24% and a 142% higher average consumption of fast foods and soda. Food insecurity is also linked to a higher likelihood of being obese and related to a higher BMI among patients.

The connection between diabetes and heart disease starts with high blood sugar levels. In adults with diabetes, the most common causes of death are cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease (for both men and women) and stroke. 

Some other risk factors related to food insecurity and diabetes include: income, employment, lifestyle factors and stress. 

The map on the right shows the percentage of food insecure persons for each county in Texas. It can be used to determine which areas are at a higher risk for diabetes, obesity, and other serious health complications. 

As mentioned before, counties in East Texas have been found to have a higher prevalence of diabetes. 

Texas Diabetes Resources

Report from the American Diabetes Association about the burden of diabetes in Texas and the increasing epidemic in the state.

SNAP provides benefits for Texas residents to supplement their food budget, so that low-income families can access healthy and nutritious food.

The Texas Diabetes Action Plan includes increasing evidence-based prevention program management, improving gestational diabetes screening and improving provider ability to treat and improve outcomes.

Brief by the Texas Demographic Center on diabetes in Texas.

About the Data

Diabetes Prevalence: National level diabetes prevalence data are from the CDC and state level prevalence data are from BRFSS. Diabetes rate data are from the CDC’s National Diabetes Statistpics Report.

Diagnosed Diabetes Prevalence: Rural Health Information Hub, Diagnosed Diabetes Prevalence, 2017 – Texas

Food Insecurity: Data are estimates published by Feeding America in the publication “Map the meal Gap 2019: A Report on County and Congressional District Food Insecurity and County Food Cost in the United States in 2017”