Background: The database of the German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information makes it possible for the first time to compute statistics on diabetes for all insurees of the statutory health insurance scheme in Germany. Data from this comprehensive source are less likely to be biased by differences in the membership structures of individual insurance carriers or by the underrepresentation of persons over age 80 that is seen in most population-based studies.
Methods: International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-coded diagnosis data from the inpatient and outpatient sectors were used to define persons as having diabetes. Incidences were estimated from differences in prevalence from one year to the next and the expected mortality of persons with and without diabetes.
Results: A diabetes diagnosis was present in 6.4 million out of a total of 65.6 million insurees in 2009 and in 6.7 million out of 64.9 million insures in 2010. The corresponding age and sex standardized prevalences of diabetes were 9.7% in 2009 and 9.9% in 2010, respectively. The number of persons with type 2 diabetes was 4.6 million in 2009 and 4.7 million in 2010. The prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes rose steeply from age 50 to age 80. Peak incidence was at age 85, with 24 newly diagnosed cases of diabetes per 1000 person-years.
Conclusion: On the basis of these data, we estimate that 5.8 million persons with type 2 diabetes are living in Germany today. The database used in this study is a valuable complement to population-based studies for monitoring the prevalence of diabetes, particularly in persons over age 80.