November marks Diabetes Awareness Month. Most people believe diabetes to be a benign disease, one that does not cause high risk complications and is easily managed through proper insulin administration. However, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and increases one’s risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nervous system damage and amputation.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that impairs the body’s ability to use food for energy. The hormone, insulin, made in the pancreas, is a hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and be converted to energy. When diabetes is not controlled, glucose and fats remain in the blood and, over time, damage vital organs. There are several types of diabetes: Type I, Type II, prediabetes and gestational diabetes.
Type I – usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type I diabetes can be caused by genetics, environment or an autoimmune disorder. It affects 5% of the diabetic population and there is no known way to prevent this type.
Type II – is linked to obesity and physical inactivity. It is also associated with older age, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, race, and ethnicity. This type of the disease affects 90-95% of the diabetic population.
Prediabetes- is a condition in which a person has blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. An estimated 57 million American adults had prediabetes in 2007. People with this condition have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Gestational Diabetes – is a form of glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs more frequently among African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indians. It is also more common in obese women and women with a family history of diabetes. Gestational diabetes requires treatment to normalize maternal blood glucose levels to avoid complications in the infant. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 35%–60% chance of developing diabetes during the 10–20 years following their pregnancy.
THE COSTS OF DIABETES
Diabetes is a costly disease with $1 out of every $10 spent on health care going towards diabetes and its complications. Total costs (direct and indirect) of diabetes are $174 billion annually. Furthermore, people with diagnosed diabetes have medical expenditures that are about 2.3 times higher than medical expenditures for people without diabetes.
WHY DIABETES AWARENESS IS IMPORTANT
If current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans will develop diabetes sometime in their lifetime, and those with diabetes will lose, on average, 10–15 years of life.The United States saw a 136 percent increase in the number of people with diabetes between 1980 and 2007. Now, nearly 24 million Americans have the disease. However, research has shown that Type II diabetes, which affects the majority of diabetics, is preventable. Lifestyle changes, including weight loss and an increase in the amount of physical activity per week, can reduce the rate of onset of type 2 diabetes by 58%. Further, disability and premature death are not inevitable consequences of diabetes. People with diabetes can prevent premature death and disability by controlling their blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood lipids and by receiving other preventive care in a timely manner through proper medication administration and lifestyle changes.
Making those lifestyle changes with regard to diet and exercise are not easy. However, the health costs and risks for not making those changes is enormous. So – let’s raise the level of awareness for this disease so we can prevent future cases and help those already afflicted with the disease to better manage their symptoms. As part of our pledge to stop diabetes, Nash & Associates will be posting periodic fitness tips, statistics and maybe an occasional recipe or two for healthy alternatives to some of our favorite not-so-good for you dishes.
If you have a health tip or dietary trick to share in support of Diabetes Awareness Month, please post a comment below! Tell us your story of how this horrible disease has affected you, a family member or a friend or and share with all of us some great stories of how you, a family member or friend beat this dreaded disease.
For more information about diabetes, you can always visit the American Diabetes Association website.