This month is dedicated to educating people about the scourge of diabetes in the United States. Why? Because nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Seventy nine million Americans have prediabetes—and are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It really is a scourge: diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
What is diabetes again?
In short, diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by persistent hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels). Left untreated, diabetes can cause serious complications affecting the circulatory and nervous systems, kidneys, eyes, and feet. Read this brief history of diabetes to understand how diabetes affects the body.
Why do people get diabetes?
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes; but in both types, genetics and behavior play a role.
In most cases of type 1 diabetes, people need to inherit risk factors from both parents. Early diet may also play a role. Type 1 diabetes is less common in people who were breastfed and in those who first ate solid foods at later ages. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which the ability of the pancrease to make insulin is destroyed.
In type 2 diabetes, you inherit a predisposition to the disease then something in your environment triggers it. It is possible to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes by exercising and losing weight. Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas produces some insulin, however the body is resistant to the action of insulin. Between 90 and 95 percent of diabetes patients have type 2 diabetes and the incidence of type 2 diabetes is growing rapidly as a result of poor diet , obesity and lack of exercise combined with genetic predisposition.
Diabetes in the United States:
- Age 20 years or older: 11.3% of all people in this age group have diabetes.
- Age 65 years or older: 26.9% of all people in this age group have diabetes.
- Men: 11.8% of all men aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
- Women: 10.8% of all women aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
- Non-Hispanic whites: 10.2% of all non-Hispanic whites aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
- Non-Hispanic blacks: 18.7% of all non-Hispanic blacks aged 20 years or older, have diabetes.