Chronic Disease Prevention Data and Reports: The Burden

Wisconsin Burden

Explore age-adjusted prevalence estimates for diagnosed hypertension, diagnosed diabetes, and obesity in Wisconsin by income, education, age, sex, and race/ethnicity on this page. Estimates are derived from the Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Survey.1 When multiple years are shown (e.g., 2011, 2013, 2015), the estimate is a combination of survey years to generate a reliable estimate.

Income and Education


Poor health outcomes increase as socioeconomic position decreases.2 One measure of socioeconomic position is household income. In Wisconsin the prevalence chronic diseases and conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity increase as household income decreases. For example, diabetes rates for those reporting a household income of less than $24,999 are higher than those reporting greater than $50,000. 


Lower educational attainment is associated with higher prevalence for many chronic diseases and conditions.3 Education is closely connected to income: higher educational attainment improves access to higher paying jobs, quality health care, and ability to cover out-of-pocket health expenses.4 Additionally, education gives individuals knowledge to improve personal health choices. 

Race and Ethnicity

Racial and ethnic disparities are found in many sectors, including health and health care. These disparities can be traced to many factors, like historic patterns of legalized segregation and discrimination.5 In Wisconsin racial and ethnic minority populations suffer higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. In 2016, Native Americans in Wisconsin self-reported diabetes rates nearly three times higher than non-Hispanic Whites.1 

Age and Sex


The risk of developing chronic diseases increases with age; 60% of adults over 65 have diagnosed hypertension compared to 34% of adults aged 45 to 65. Wisconsin's older adult population is growing. An estimated 15% of the state's population is over 65 years old, and expected to increase to 24% by 2040. As our population ages, chronic disease burden is expected to grow with it.6


Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death for both men and women in Wisconsin, but we know that they impact sexes differently. For example, men have higher rates of diabetes than women overall. However, women of childbearing age have the same risk of developing diabetes as men the same age, likely because of gestational diabetes (a form of diabetes in women without previously diagnosed diabetes during pregnancy).7


1. Wisconsin Behavioral Risk Factor Survey, 2011-2016. All estimates except for the "Age" section are age-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. Census. Chronic Disease Prevention Program, April 2018.
2. Marmot, M. et al. 2008. Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Lancet: 372: 1661-4.
3. Choi, A. et al. 2011. Association of Educational Attainment with Chronic Disease and Mortality: The Kidney Early Evaluation Program (KEEP). Am J Kidney Dis.: 58 (2): 228-34.
4. Cutler, DM., Lleras-Muney, A. Education and Health: Evaluating Theories and Evidence. In: Schoeni RF, House, JS, Kaplan, GA, editors. Making Americans Healthier: Social and Economic Policy as Health Policy. Russell Sage Foundation; 2008. pp. 29-59.
5. Institute of Medicine. 2003. Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.
6. Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Long Term Care. "Wisconsin's Aging Population: Projections for the Growing 65 and Older Population, 2015-2040" (P-00138).
7. CDC. "Gestational Diabetes." Accessed August 14, 2018.

Last Revised: January 25, 2019