CDC Predicts One in Every Three Americans Could Be Diabetic by 2050
Diabetes is a potentially life-threatening disease of the endocrine system. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, afflicting more than 20 million people in the country. Additionally, 56 million more Americans exhibit symptoms of what physicians call “pre-diabetes,” a condition that can lead to full-blown diabetes, and increases the risk for other health problems such as strokes and heart disease.
Diabetes can basically be described as the body’s inability to regulate its blood sugar (glucose) levels and insulin production. Given this inability, diabetics must exercise greater care to maintain their health, especially in the areas of diet and exercise. They must test their blood sugar levels regularly, and may have to take medications and insulin injections when those levels are abnormal. Even under good medical management, diabetes is a continuing health problem that carries the risk of developing complications such as amputations, renal failure, blindness and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes is also very costly: its estimated cost is more than $144 billion dollars per year, and this cost is likely to increase, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC released a study in late 2010 based on extrapolations of current rates of diabetes and pre-diabetes in the U.S. Findings from the study show that if current trends continue, then by 2050 practically one out of every three Americans would be diabetic or pre-diabetic. One out of three, or 33%, is a staggering number, and its impact on the nation’s health and economy would be very drastic.
The rising number of diabetes cases can be directly attributed to people’s lifestyle choices. Type-2 diabetes (also known as “acquired” or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) is often caused by an unhealthy diet high in processed sugars and a sedentary lifestyle. These two factors are prominent in today’s lifestyle. Pre-diabetes is caused by the same issues. Pre-diabetics exhibit higher blood-sugar levels and lower insulin resistance than non-diabetics, but not as much as actual diabetics. Pre-diabetes can be reversed before it develops into full-blown diabetes, but only by strictly following the rules of healthy eating and regular exercise.
The CDC has begun a series of local community intervention campaigns to correct unhealthy lifestyle choices by promoting healthy diets, exercise, and greater awareness of who might be susceptible to diabetes. Those most commonly afflicted are people with a family history of the disease, certain ethnic groups (African-American, Latin American, Native American and some Pacific islanders), and especially those who are overweight or obese. Individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25% are considered obese. Obesity is not only directly linked to diabetes, but also to cardiovascular problems, stroke, hypertension and many other medical conditions.
The CDC’s grim prediction regarding the number of diabetics and pre-diabetics in the next 40 years should serve as a stern warning to all to be more health-conscious. We must remember that diabetes is not just a very costly disease; it also greatly reduces the quality of life. Furthermore, as a person gets older, the cost of treatment also becomes higher, and the disease’s destructive impact on the body increases as well. The key then is to avoid developing diabetes, or prevention through living a healthy lifestyle.
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