Diabetes Prevalence, Puerto Rico 2017


José A. Bartolomei-Díaz, PhD

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which over time can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. (https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/)


The objective of this post is to provide insight into the prevalence of diabetes in Puerto Rico. This type of information can be useful for institutional strategies and activities such as: knowing how to best allocate human or economic resources towards diabetes, determining risk factors for the diabetes, or developing scientific hypotheses for continued research into the disease’s etiology or even developing strategies for diabetes prevention and treatment.


In an effort to survey many types of social, demographic, disease and behavioral outcomes in the United States and its associated territories, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) administers numerous population-based surveys. The information used to estimate diabetes in this report came from the 2017 data set from a population-based survey regularly administered by the CDC known as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS). Diabetes prevalence is surveyed by the BRFSS using the following question: Has a doctor, nurse, or other health professional ever told you that you have diabetes

The complete methodology used to conduct the analyses shown in this post can be found here.

Statistical Remarks

The following statistical remarks highlight the most meaningful differences among a selected group of demographic variables based on a logistic regression model. We encourage you to refer to the graphs and tables here for a more in-depth look at diabetes prevalence in Puerto Rico.

An estimated 473,959 (17.22%) adults in Puerto Rico reported during 2017 being told by a doctor, nurse, or other health professional that they have diabetes.

When evaluating diabetes by age group, adults in the 45-54, 55-64, and 65+ group had a 11.1, 14.7, and 21.2 times more likely, respectively, to report diabetes than the 18-24 group (p-value < 0.05).

Among adults, females had a 10% lower likelihood of reporting having diabetes compared to males. (p-value > 0.05).

In terms of education level, high school graduate had a 24% higher likelihood of reporting having diabetes than those who completed only some high school (p-value > 0.05).

Those with an annual income of $35k – <$50k had a 50% lower likelihood of reporting diabetes than those whose annual income was less than $14,999. (p-value < 0.05).

Those who reported being divorced had a 29% higher likelihood of reporting having diabetes compared to those who reported being married (p-value > 0.05).

Adults who were in the unable to work group had a 85% higher likelihood of reporting having diabetes compared to those who reported being employ for wages (p-value < 0.05).

Data Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey

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