November is American Diabetes Month
Diabetes is a condition that affects over 30 million Americans (that is, almost 10% of the population), along with another 85 million people who have pre-diabetic symptoms that may eventually become full-blown diabetes
According to the CDC, diabetes continues to grow and awareness is the first step in helping prevent or manage this disease. Diabetes rates are highest among Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. However, non-Hispanic whites are also affected by diabetes, especially as they approach the third age.
Although there are various types of diabetes, these are the most common among the US population:
- Type 1 Diabetes – This type of diabetes is defined by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. In this type of diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, which hinders the ability to produce insulin. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 200,000 new cases of Type 1 Diabetes are diagnosed every year.
- Type 2 Diabetes – This type of diabetes is a chronic condition and currently there is no cure for it. Type 2 affects how a human processes glucose and as a result, the body may not be able to produce insulin naturally. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 3 million new cases of Type 2 Diabetes are diagnosed every year.
- Gestational Diabetes – This type of diabetes affects many pregnant women, who must get tested to learn if they have it. Once a diagnosis is made, they must work with a medical doctor to prepare a nutrition plan and increase their physical activity to manage it and avoid causing complications for the mother or the baby.
- Pre-Diabetes – Usually a preamble to diabetes given that it is characterized by high blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be considered Type 2 Diabetes.
Children are also at risk of diabetes largely due to family health history and genetic traits. And if it isn’t identified as soon as symptoms manifest in a child, diabetes can cause even more severe effects in their health–including heart disease, kidney disease and other related ailments.
Obese individuals, whether adults or children, can be at risk of diabetes as a result of their weight and a lack of physical activity. However, eating healthy foods that are low in carbohydrates and fat can help prevent diabetes or slow down pre-diabetes to keep it from evolving into full-blown diabetes.
Another little-known fact is that diabetes is a leading cause of deaths in the United States–more so than AIDS/HIV and certain types of cancer combined. That said, the rapid growth of diabetes is quickly catalyzing this disease into possibly becoming a nationwide epidemic.
Want to learn more about diabetes and how to prevent or manage it? Visit the American Diabetes Association or the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to learn about the symptoms, prevention and management of diabetes.