Epidemiological studies performed over the past 40 years have shown that the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes has increased dramatically in the U.S. and that a substantial proportion of the population has undiagnosed diabetes, impaired fasting glucose, and impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes is most prevalent in minority populations, such as African-Americans, Native Americans, and Mexican Americans. Increasing prevalence of diabetes has led to increases in microvascular complications such as blindness, end-stage renal disease, and lower limb amputations. Poor glycemic control contributes to the high incidence of these complications, yet community-based studies of diabetic patients show their mean fasting plasma glucose concentration is generally >180 mg/dl compared with 100 mg/dl for nondiabetic individuals. In people with diabetes, risk factors for cardiovascular disease including elevated fasting plasma glucose, blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and obesity partly explain the high proportion of deaths (60–70%) caused by cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes. More intensive diabetes management and improved glycemic control could minimize long-term complications of the disease and would be expected to reduce the morbidity, mortality, and costs associated with diabetes.

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