Diabetes: 10 Year Trend

Half of Americans will have Type 2 diabetes by 2020, according to a current forecast. This comes from a newly released report by United Health Group's Center for Reform and Modernization. 

It's a scary figure to consider, since diabetes is a devastating and potentially deadly disease. It's also an extremely costly disorder: predictions are that if the number of cases of diabetes and pre-diabetes (a condition in which an individual is at high risk for getting diabetes) continues to grow,  it will soon cost as much as 10 percent of the total health care spending in the United States.

Unlike some illnesses, which are virtually impossible to predict or to prevent, diabetes is one that you can stop in its tracks. But many people aren't aware that obesity is a major risk factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes. And even if they are, they may simply lack the motivation needed to lose weight and maintain an ideal body weight. Also, unlike some illnesses, symptoms of diabetes are easy to overlook.

How to Diabetes Curb the Diabetes Trend

  • On a personal level, people may prevent or at least delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes by cutting back on sugary foods. "People are eating more and more products that are packed with sugar and high fructose corn syrup," says Michael Aziz, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and the author of "The Perfect 10 Diet." And, he adds, many people mistakenly believe that foods labeled "low-fat" are good for them. Often, the manufacturer just adds extra sugar to make these products to make up for the lack of fat. In susceptible individuals, he says, "The pancreas gets exhausted and doesn't want to make insulin anymore."

  • Regular exercise helps stave off diabetes. If you're something of a couch potato, find an activity that you enjoy, says Aziz, and stick with it. That doesn't mean you have to start training for a triathlon. "Start slow," Azis advises. "Try walking and lifting weights. A combination of aerobic exercise and weight training is wonderful at controlling blood sugar."  If you walk, enlist a friend and meet at the same time each day. The time goes by much faster when you've got a partner. And get your kids to love exercise, too. Take a family hike, play a game of tag in the backyard, go ice skating together. Staying healthy is a family affair, so get everyone involved and active.

  • Routine blood testing for diabetes after age 45 is recommended. One in three people with diabetes don't know they have it, Enrico Cagliero, MD, a Harvard Medical School professor of medicine, told AOL Health. "The problem with diabetes is that the symptoms are not specific," he said.  "It's a simple blood test, and it's not expensive," he told AOL Health.

  • Initiate more diabetes education programs, says Marina Krymskaya, CDE, NP, assistant director of the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. "Learning what diabetes is and who's at risk should start during childhood and be reinforced for adults in the workplace," she says. The public needs to be as aware of the dangers of diabetes as they are about the dangers of smoking cigarettes or having unprotected sex, she says. "The message about diabetes should be delivered to everyone and repeated constantly, with diabetes prevention spots on television that would be almost like short alerts," Krymskaya says.

  • Find a way to get involved in your community. Join an organization. Volunteer at a fundraiser. The good news is that we have the power to change this dire prediction.

Huso, Deborah. "Half of Americans could be diabetic by 2020." AOL Health.