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Updated July 15, 1998
Diabetes: Basic Information and Federal Funding
Donna U. Vogt
Analyst in Social Sciences
Science, Technology, and Medicine Division
An estimated 8 to 10 million Americans know they have diabetes mellitus, a
metabolic disorder in which the body either fails to produce, or fails to properly use, the
hormone insulin. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States,1 the
leading cause of adult-onset blindness, and a significant contributor to several
debilitating health complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease
(nephropathy), nerve disease (neuropathy), and amputations. The American Diabetes
Association estimates that direct and indirect costs of diabetes mellitus in the United
States exceed $98.2 billion each year.2 This report describes diabetes, current treatment
and management, public health impact and cost, innovations in treatment, and federal
spending on treatment and research. This report will be updated periodically.3
Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a disease that affects the way the human
body uses food as fuel. This fuel, glucose, is a sugar which comes from other sugars and
starches; human body cells convert glucose into energy to live and grow. Some cells can
absorb glucose only in the presence of insulin. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas,
is carried by blood to body cells. Insulin is produced by beta cells which are present in
cell clusters called islets of Langerhans scattered throughout the pancreas. When
someone is diabetic, either the body does not produce insulin or the body does not
respond normally to insulin. When glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the
bloodstream, and causes a condition called high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. When
National Center for Health Statistics, Advance Report of Final Mortality Statistics, 1995,
Monthly Vital Statistics Report, supplement 2, v. 45, no.11,12 June 1998. Diabetes causes 2.6%
of total deaths in the United States.
2 Department of Health and Human Services Budget Office, HHS and National Cost for
Thirteen Diseases and Conditions, 20 February 1998.
3 This report replaces CRS Report 97-13 SPR, Diabetes: An Overview, by Christine Miller,
18 December 1996.
Congressional Research Service + The Library of Congress
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
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Vogt, Donna U. Diabetes: Basic Information and Federal Funding, report, July 15, 1998; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc807815/m1/1/: accessed June 22, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.