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Alabama’s #13 Health Indicators

Diabetes is a serious health condition and was AL’s seventh leading cause of death in 2019. Diabetes can be classified into three main types – Type 1, Type 2, and gestational. The majority of individuals with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes (90‑95 percent). Type 2 diabetes, means an individual’s body cannot make enough insulin to control the body’s blood sugar levels (CDC Diabetes Basics).

Individuals most at-risk for Type 2 diabetes are those diagnosed with prediabetes. Prediabetes is when an individual’s blood sugar is chronically higher than normal, but not severe enough for a diabetes diagnosis. People living with prediabetes can still reverse the condition with lifestyle changes. Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and could pose a health risk to the infant (CDC Diabetes Basics).

Many people living with diabetes can manage their condition with a consistent, healthy diet and regular exercise, if the condition is detected early (ADPH Diabetes). Due to low screening rates and access to health services, diabetes is often diagnosed when it begins to have serious health consequences. Diabetes is highly linked to obesity and lack of exercise and has many associated comorbidities, including heart disease and some eye conditions. The disease can result in limb amputation and the need for dialysis (CDC Diabetes Basics).

Disproportionately Affected Populations

According to CDC, “more than 34 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of [those individuals] don’t know they have it” (CDC Diabetes Basics). Diabetes takes a heavy toll in the AA/black population and in older adults. Almost one-fifth of AA/black individuals and one-fourth of elderly people have diabetes in AL.

Geographic Variation

Diabetes was especially prevalent in rural areas. Most of the central AL counties were considered as part of the U.S. Diabetes Belt, an area with considerably high diabetes occurrence among adults.

Alabama Diabetes Highlights

Data are retrieved from BCBS Claims, the Centers of Medicaid and Medicare, AL Medicaid Agency, BRFSS, and the ADPH Center for Health Statistics Mortality Files:

  • According to BRFSS, 13.9 percent of AL’s adult population report they have been told they have diabetes.
  • There was an increase in self-reported prevalence among AA/black individuals when compared to white individuals.
  • The Southwestern Public Health District had the highest percentage of diabetes diagnoses among their Medicaid recipients at 5.8 percent.
  • The rate of diabetes mortality in rural areas was 30.4 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to urban areas 20.8 deaths per 100,000 persons.

Health Indicators

The following indicators have been selected for use in developing a benchmark or starting point for measuring the current state of and monitoring future changes regarding the elderly population of Alabama:


Page last updated: July 25, 2023