The North America and Caribbean Region has the second highest comparative prevalence of diabetes with 10.7% of the adult population affected. The majority of the population in the region lives in the United States of America (USA), Mexico, and Canada, which account for the vast majority of people with diabetes. However, the prevalence (%) of diabetes among adults in the Caribbean islands is generally high and consistently above the global average.
In 2011, an estimated 37.7 million people with diabetes live in this region, and by 2030 the number is expected to increase by more than a third to 51.2 million. Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Mexico have the highest prevalence (%) of diabetes in the region. Meanwhile the USA, with 23.7 million, has the highest number of people with diabetes followed by Mexico, Canada and Haiti. A further 36.9 million people in 2011 or 11.5% of adults in the region have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), putting them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This number is expected to increase to 47.2 million by 2030.
A large proportion of the burden of diabetes and IGT in the USA and Canada can be attributed to the ageing of the population. In 2011, 28.5% of the region’s population will be over 50 years of age, and this is expected to rise to 34.3% by 2030. 1 By contrast, only 18% of the populations in Mexico and the Caribbean countries are over 50. However, the proportions of people over the age of 50 for those countries are expected to increase to 29% and 24%, respectively by 2030.
There are an estimated 94,700 children with type 1 diabetes in the region. The USA estimate accounts for almost 90% of the total number of new cases of type 1 diabetes in children, followed by Canada.
Diabetes is responsible for 13.8% of all deaths in adults, or 281,000 people, in the region. More men (151,000) than women (130,000) died from diabetes-related causes in the region in 2011. Nearly two-thirds (59%) of all deaths due to diabetes occurred in adults over the age of 60. The USA has one of the highest numbers of deaths due to diabetes of any country in the world (180,000).
Healthcare expenditures due to diabetes in the region is estimated to account for almost half (48%) of global diabetes-related healthcare spending. The USA alone accounts for most of the USD 223 billion spent in the region in 2011. Except for the USA (USD 8,468) and Canada (USD 5,106), mean diabetes-related expenditures per person with diabetes are low for almost every other country in the region. The majority of Caribbean islands spend less that USD 1,000 on care per person with diabetes, and Haiti spends just USD 68. Healthcare spending due to diabetes is expected to increase by 20% by 2030, the smallest increase of any region.
The estimates for diabetes in adults were taken from 12 data sources in the region representing 10 out of 26 countries. Large national data collection systems in the USA and Canada provide representative information on the number of people with diabetes. However, the availability of similar data sources in the Caribbean is lacking, which leads to more uncertainty and variability around estimates for these countries.
1: United Nations. World Population Prospects: The 2006 Revision. Geneva: United Nations; 2007. http://www.un.org/esa/population/