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More than 1 in 10 Delaware Adults Report Having Diabetes in 2020



In 2020, 12.4 percent of Delaware residents age 18 and older reported they had been diagnosed with diabetes.

That means more than 96,800 Delaware adults know they have diabetes, according to the Delaware Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS).  This prevalence does not include gestational diabetes. Although the BRFS question does not distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse estimates that between 90 and 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2.

Trend in Adult Diabetes Prevalence in Delaware

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
9.7% 9.6% 11.1% 11.1% 11.5% 10.6% 11.3% 11.9 12.8% 12.4%

  Source: Delaware Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS), 2011-20120

There has been a significant increase in diabetes between 2012 and 2019.

In 2020, there were significant differences among racial groups: 20.2 percent of non-Hispanic African-American adults, 10.9 percent of non-Hispanic Caucasian adults, and 10.8 percent of Hispanic adults were diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetes also becomes more prevalent with age. Only 3.7 percent of 18-44 year olds have diabetes, but the prevalence rises to 10.4 percent among adults age 45-54; 19.41 percent among adults age 55-64; and 23.4 percent among those 65 and older. There is no statistically significant difference between men (13.6 percent) and women (11.3 percent) in the 2020 survey results. 


The survey asks about "pre-diabetes," or borderline diabetes. In 2020, among adults who do not have diagnosed diabetes, 9.4 percent—or more than 70,100 Delawareans—reported being told they have pre-diabetes.

People with pre-diabetes are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but they can significantly reduce that risk by increasing physical activity and eating a healthier diet.

Compliance With Recommendations

The 2020 Delaware BRFS also provides information about compliance with recommendations for people with diabetes.

  • 59.9 percent say they check their blood glucose (sugar) levels one or more times per day. [The recommended frequency is three times a day for most diabetic adults.]
  • 29.1 percent see their doctor 4 or more times a year.  An additional 37.8 percent say they see their doctor 2 or 3 times a year.
  • 88.7 percent say they have been checked by a doctor for Hemoglobin A1-C one or more times in the past year.
  • 65.9 percent of people with diabetes had an eye exam in which their pupils were dilated during the past year.
  • 22.2 percent of people with diabetes said they have been told by a doctor that diabetes has affected their eyes, or they have retinopathy.
  • 71.3 percent said a health professional had checked their feet for sores or irritations one or more times in the past year.
  • Half (49.2 percent) of all adults diagnosed with diabetes say they have taken a course or class in how to manage diabetes.

Weight and Diabetes

thumbnail photo of feet on a scale


Overweight and obesity are major contributing factors for developing diabetes. In Delaware, 21.2 percent of adults who report being obese have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with 4.7 percent of adults who report normal weights. About 86.8 percent of adults with diagnosed diabetes are either overweight or obese.

Obesity among Delaware adults more than doubled from 13 percent in 1992 to 36.5 percent in 2020. The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among Delaware adults also doubled from 4.9 percent in 1991 to 12.8 percent in 2019. However, prevalence of both obesity and diabetes has been fairly level for the past decade.

Demographic factors for diabetes closely parallel the factors related to overweight and obesity. Adults with lower educational levels and low income have a higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes.  Diabetes prevalence is higher in Kent and Sussex counties, where obesity prevalence also is higher than in New Castle County (see chart below).

2020 Diabetes Prevalence by County
State New Castle Co. Kent County Sussex County
12.4% 12.6% 13.1% 11.6%
2020 Obesity Prevalence by County
State New Castle Co. Kent County Sussex County
36.5% 35.1% 39.9% 37.3%

Source: Delaware Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS), 2020.

Disabilities and Diabetes

About 23.9 percent of Delaware's adult population report having activities limited by a physical, mental or emotion problem, or having a health problem that requires them to use special equipment (such as a cane, wheelchair, a special bed, or a special telephone). However, among people diagnosed with diabetes, 40.6 percent report having a disability. About 21.1 percent of all adults with a disability say they have been diagnosed with diabetes.

Depression and Diabetes

About 15.6 percent of Delaware's adult population report being told they have a depressive disorder—including depression, major depression, dysthymia, or minor depression. Among people diagnosed with diabetes, 18.1 percent report having a depressive disorder. About 14.3 percent of all adults with a depression say they have been diagnosed with diabetes.

A printable PDF version of this page is available here for download.

Return to the main Diabetes Program page. | Return to the main BRFS page.



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