Type 2 Diabetes – Are We Doing Enough to Raise Awareness?

Is type 2 diabetes taken as seriously as it should?  Mainly a preventable disease, its alarming rise has become as acceptable and downplayed as obesity. In fact obesity is the common thread that binds early onset diabetes.  Diabetes is not given the serious attention that it deserves, partly because the cause and effect of diabetes is not clearly defined.

Diabetes: Defined
Type 2 diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas in which needed insulin is not produced in adequate amounts in the body to metabolize blood glucose [sugar] for the cells. Without insulin the cells are starved of glucose, even amidst high levels in the blood. This is called hyperglycemia and is the primary contributor to cardiovascular diseases in diabetics.

When our cells are unable to metabolize glucose, it compensates for lack of energy by releasing stored fat and protein, broken down into ketone bodies. Because ketone bodies are acidic substances an individual is also at risk for ketoacidosis [formerly called diabetic coma].

Causes of Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is mainly a “lifestyle” disease.  Once prevalent among 40+ age groups is now common place among adolescents. Overwhelming evidence points to poor nutrition and lack of exercise as the primary cause. Ignorance and poor management of the disease introduce the second part of the equation.

Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes runs parallel to the rise in obesity.  In fact the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) links obesity-diabetes-inactivity much like a revolving door, one begets the other.  It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United State, with 1.3 million cases diagnosed per year.

Adding to this problem is a worsening economic climate. Increasing poverty among ethnic groups (Hispanic, Native American, Afro-Caribbean) limit choices to cheaper, less nutritious food selection.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a study published by New England Journal of Medicine supporting the fact that families who moved from poverty to marginally better neighborhoods experienced long-term “reductions in diabetes and extreme obesity.”

Effects of Diabetes on the Body
Diabetes effects are insidious. Many individuals are unaware of the disease until serious complications develop.  Hyperglycemia causes blockages in blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. Plaque buildup and narrowing of the arteries are common causes of heart diseases and stroke among diabetics. Poor circulation is another reason for foot amputations from gangrene.

So how do we address this epidemic? Direct educational campaign is a start. Clear understanding of diabetes, its cause and effects must become an active part of more governmental and private agency campaigns.

 Education and management are half the battle won against diabetes, the other half is up to you.