Diabetes rising: Why we all need to worry!

Expanding waistlines are one associated cause of type 2 diabetes.
Expanding waistlines are one associated cause of type 2 diabetes.

The diabetes epidemic is worldwide!

It's time to start worrying! The CDC just released new estimates that predict that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes by the year 2050. That rise would be over a three-fold increase from the almost 10 percent of Americans who have diabetes now in 2010. The coming wave of cases is attributable to three main factors: 1) the aging of Americans (making them more likely to develop type 2 diabetes); 2) increases in the number of minority groups, almost all of whom are at high risk for diabetes (including Hispanic/Latinos, African-Americans, and more); and 3) more people with diabetes living longer

The projected rise in diabetes prevalence in the United States also reflects the international diabetes pandemic. The International Diabetes Federation estimated that 285 million people worldwide had diabetes in 2010, but predicted that as many as 438 million will have diabetes by 2030. Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include older age, obesity, family history, having diabetes while pregnant, a sedentary lifestyle and race/ethnicity. Groups at higher risk for the disease are African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.

What you can do to prevent diabetes

Is diabetes preventable? In most cases, yes. Type 2 diabetes results from a combination of insulin resistance and the loss of at least some of your insulin-producing beta cells. In most cases, lifestyle changes can help prevent diabetes and may even reverse pre-diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease, one that is triggered by environmental factors, but its onset can be hastened by a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle--so although it is not completely preventable, you may be able to affect your risk of developing it with how you live.

What can you do before it's too late? Think "healthy lifestyle." In other words, changing your diet for the better, engaging in more daily movement and regular physical activity, maintaining a healthier body weight, and avoiding things that increase insulin resistance (like cigarette smoking) will allow you to stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of ever developing any type of diabetes.

When it comes to lifestyle improvements, even small changes can have a big impact. Simply cutting back on refined carbohydrate intake and avoiding sugary drinks can boost your insulin action and help you lose weight without much effort. Moving more on a daily basis--even just standing more each day--can lower your diabetes risk as well. Every chance you get, stand up, move around, and get more active! Better managing your stress levels and sleeping 7-8 hours a night can also reduce your diabetes risk.

"Fit Brain, Fit Body!" Diabetes Prevention Programs

What others are trying to do about diabetes

The CDC and its partners (including the Y) are working on a variety of initiatives to prevent type 2 diabetes and to reduce its health complications. The CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program launched in April 2010 to bring evidence-based programs for preventing type 2 diabetes to communities around the United States. The program supports establishing a network of lifestyle intervention programs for overweight or obese people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes that emphasize dietary changes, coping skills, and group support to help participants lose five to seven percent of their body weight and get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity. The program is currently working with 28 sites across the United States offering group lifestyle interventions with plans to expand to additional sites in the future. Other groups are springing up around the country, and some diabetes prevention programs are even being offered online, such as the "Fit Brain, Fit Body" lifestyle and fitness programs through the Lifelong Exercise Institute.

The Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial, led by the National Institutes of Health, has shown that those measures can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent in people at higher risk of the disease. Other studies around the world have shown similar, positive results that lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on diabetes risk.

A 10-year follow-up of people involved in the Diabetes Prevention Program showed that the benefits from lifestyle improvements persisted for at least a decade, with individuals in the lifestyle intervention still maintaining a 34 percent lower risk of diabetes that many years later.  Moreover, the lifestyle intervention was shown to be most successful in preventing diabetes in older individuals, the group at the highest risk for developing it in the first place.

Don't let this happen to your feet! Diabetic complications like foot ulcers are often preventable with better blood sugar control.
Don't let this happen to your feet! Diabetic complications like foot ulcers are often preventable with better blood sugar control.

None of us can really afford to get diabetes

Diabetes can kill you, maim you, blind you, rob you of a life worth living, and cost you a fortune! In this case, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound (or more) of cure.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2007, but it is a strong, independent risk factor for heart disease. Usually when someone dies from a heart attack, diabetes is not listed as the cause of death even though it may have been the cause of accelerated heart disease, so mortality attributed to diabetes is likely highly underestimated. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults under age 75, kidney failure, and non-accident/injury leg and foot amputations among adults.

What's more, people with diagnosed diabetes have medical costs that are more than twice that of those without it. The total costs of diabetes are an estimated $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical costs. About 24 million Americans have diabetes, and one-quarter of them do not know they have it. Ignorance is not bliss where diabetes is concerned, though. You can develop complications of diabetes without ever having been diagnosed with it. Can you really afford to wait to start getting healthier any way that you can?

Comments 2 comments

Georgina_writes profile image

Georgina_writes 6 years ago from Dartmoor

Definitely a disease to avoid. Rating up and following you.

MeGunner profile image

MeGunner 6 years ago from Lagos

Great work. The need for taking all necessary measures to reduce the risk of developing diabetes can not be over emphasized. Apart from the cancers, I do not think there is any other disease that is as common and 'potentially chronically debilitating as Diabetes Mellitus. It's a disease that really concerns me...Checking my father's random blood sugar recently I was suprised to find my hand shaking... And I quite agree with you, the rising trend in the prevalence of diabetes needs to worry, in fact scare all of us. Why? Because we all eat... mostly recklessly! Well done 'for being part of the team'.

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