The incidence of diabetes has more than doubled worldwide in the last three decades.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other foods into energy needed for daily life and activity.
Although the cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, it is highly associated with obesity and lack of physical activity. In the high-tech world of 2008, we eat too much of the wrong foods and move too little.
There are 23.6 million adults and children in the United States—or 7.8 percent—of the population with diabetes. Nearly one quarter don’t know they have the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 180 million people have diabetes, and it projects that number will more than double by 2030.
The long-term health problems linked with untreated diabetes include retinal disease, heart disease, stroke, compromised blood circulation, seizures, amputation, and kidney-function impairment.
The financial costs are staggering
According to a study by the American Diabetes Association with Novo Nordisk (a drug company based in Denmark that makes most of the world’s insulin), last year, the U.S. spent $218 billion on diabetes treatment. This figure is about 10 percent of all health care expenditures.
What can one person do?
The simple message is to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight through good food choices and physical activity. For individuals who are obese, the usual recommendation for moderate activity will not be adequate. A qualified health professional can assist with the right diet and physical activity recommendations.
Individuals who don’t know whether they have diabetes (or might be in the category of prediabetes), should talk with their physician. A Fasting Plasma Glucose test (FPG) or Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) can determine status and risk.
For additional information and useful materials on how to avoid developing diabetes (or to manage the disease), contact the American Diabetes Association, the WHO Diabetes Programme, or your health care provider.