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The Cost of Diabetes

Diabetes rates have skyrocketed in recent years, and if thing s don’t change soon we will be facing a national crisis. To raise awareness about diabetes and its consequences, November has been designated as National Diabetes Month. Here is an update from the Centers for Disease Control about the state of diabetes in the US.

  • Diabetes effects  8.3% of the population (almost 26 million Americans). The percentage is expected to rise to 30 % by 2050.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, non traumatic lower limb amputations and kidney failure in the United States.
  • Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke, and increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Diabetes costs $174 billion a year. The medical expenses for people with diabetes are more than two times higher than for people without diabetes.
  • 79 million Americans 20 years and older have pre diabetes. A condition where blood sugar levels are not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes but are too high to be normal. Many, if not most, people with pre diabetes will develop diabetes without intervention.

Ironically, as nasty and serious a disease as diabetes is, it is largely self inflicted. Walter Willett, chairman of the department nutrition at the Harvard Scholl of Public Health says that “type 2 diabetes (which represents 95 % of all diabetes) is almost a totally avoidable disease. We estimate that more than 92% of the cases could be avoided by diet and exercise.” As mentioned earlier, the majority of those with pre diabetes will develop diabetes without intervention, the good news is that a study entitled the  Diabetes Prevention Program (PDP) has proven that moderate weight loss (5% – 7% of total weight) and 30 minutes of exercise five days a week reduced the risk by close to 60%.

Without question, inactivity and weight gain is driving this diabetes epidemic. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active are your best bets at prevention, and as the DPD has shown, even those at high risk for developing diabetes can greatly reduce their risk with moderate weight loss and exercise.

For more information, visit www.diabetes.org. I also encourage you to look over this American Diabetes Month 2011 PowerPoint presentation from the American Diabetes Association.

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