Why Diabetes is Becoming the Biggest Health Epidemic of the 21st Century

by James Brown

Updated October 20, 2023

Introduction

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide, and there are several reasons why it can be argued that diabetes is the biggest epidemic of the 21st century.

Firstly, the number of people living with diabetes has been increasing dramatically in recent years. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there were 537 million adults living with diabetes in 2021, and this number is expected to rise to 700 million by 2045.

This represents a significant global health crisis, as the disease can lead to serious complications such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation.

Secondly, diabetes is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. The IDF estimates that diabetes caused 6.7 million deaths in 2021, and the disease is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputation.

The economic impact of diabetes is also significant, with the disease costing an estimated $966 billion USD in healthcare expenditures in 2021.

Thirdly, diabetes is a preventable and manageable disease, yet many people remain undiagnosed or struggle to manage their condition.

Lifestyle factors such as unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and obesity are major risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and interventions such as education, screening, and access to affordable medications and care can help prevent and manage the disease.

However, many people do not have access to these resources, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where the burden of diabetes is highest.

The bottom line is diabetes represents a major global health crisis that is expected to continue to worsen in the coming years.

The disease is a leading cause of death, disability, and healthcare expenditures worldwide, and addressing the epidemic will require a concerted effort from governments, healthcare providers, and individuals to prevent and manage the disease.

What is Diabetes Exactly?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the body is unable to properly regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels.

Glucose is a vital source of energy for the body's cells, and it comes from the food we eat. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps glucose enter the cells to be used for energy.

In people with diabetes, there is either not enough insulin produced by the pancreas or the body is unable to use insulin effectively.

This leads to an accumulation of glucose in the blood, which can cause a range of health problems over time.

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes: This is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump to manage their blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes: This is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for around 90% of cases. In type 2 diabetes, the body is resistant to the effects of insulin or does not produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. Type 2 diabetes can often be managed through lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. Some people with type 2 diabetes also require medication or insulin therapy.

In addition to type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there is also a third type called gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy and typically resolves after delivery. However, women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and blindness. It's important for people with diabetes to work closely with their healthcare providers to manage their condition and reduce their risk of complications.

Why Doesn’t Diabetes Get More Attention from the Media?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide, yet it traditionally does not receive as much media attention as other health issues. There could be several reasons for this:

●Prevalence of other health issues: While diabetes is a significant health issue, there are other health issues that affect a larger proportion of the population, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. These diseases may receive more media attention simply because they affect more people.

●Lack of understanding: Diabetes is a complex disease, and many people may not fully understand the causes, symptoms, and complications of the disease. This lack of understanding may lead to less media coverage of diabetes-related issues.

●Stigma: There may be a certain amount of stigma associated with diabetes, particularly with type 2 diabetes. This stigma may lead to less media coverage of the disease.

●Economic interests: There may be economic interests that influence the amount of media coverage given to diabetes. For example, the food and beverage industry may have a vested interest in downplaying the role of unhealthy diets in the development of diabetes.

●Lack of public outcry: Unlike other health issues, such as cancer or HIV/AIDS, diabetes does not typically generate a strong public outcry or advocacy movement. This lack of public pressure may lead to less media coverage of the disease.

What Are the Most Recent Diabetes Statistics?

Here are some of the latest diabetes statistics from reputable sources:

●The International Diabetes Federation estimates that 537 million adults aged 20-79 years were living with diabetes in 2021.

●In the United States, an estimated 37.3 million people, or one out of every 10, have diabetes. In addition, one in five people with diabetes doesn’t know they have it.

●Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, lower limb amputation, and cardiovascular disease.

●Approximately 6.7 million deaths were attributed to diabetes in 2021.

●The prevalence of diabetes is increasing globally, with low- and middle-income countries disproportionately affected.

Why is the Number of Diabetes Sufferers Increasing?

According to the American Diabetes Association, the global prevalence of diabetes in adults (aged 20-79 years) has increased from 4.7% in 1980 to 10.5% in 2021. This number is projected to reach 643 million (11.3%) by 2030 and 783 million (12.2%) by 2045.

The increase in diabetes prevalence is largely attributed to lifestyle factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity, and obesity, which are also risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

The rise in type 2 diabetes is particularly significant, as it is largely preventable through lifestyle modifications. This highlights the urgent need for prevention and management strategies to address the growing burden of diabetes globally.

Why is the Number of Diabetes Sufferers Increasing?

According to the American Diabetes Association, the global prevalence of diabetes in adults (aged 20-79 years) has increased from 4.7% in 1980 to 10.5% in 2021. This number is projected to reach 643 million (11.3%) by 2030 and 783 million (12.2%) by 2045.

The increase in diabetes prevalence is largely attributed to lifestyle factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity, and obesity, which are also risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

The rise in type 2 diabetes is particularly significant, as it is largely preventable through lifestyle modifications. This highlights the urgent need for prevention and management strategies to address the growing burden of diabetes globally.

What Can be Done to Prevent or Better Manage Diabetes?

Here are some diabetes health tips that can help manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications:

●Follow a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve overall health.

●Get regular exercise: Physical activity can help lower blood sugar levels, improve cardiovascular health, and help with weight management.

●Monitor blood sugar levels: Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels can help identify patterns and trends and allow for adjustments in treatment plans as needed.

●Take medication as prescribed: For people with type 2 diabetes, medication may be necessary to help regulate blood sugar levels. It's important to take medication as prescribed by a healthcare provider.

●Manage stress: Stress can affect blood sugar levels, so it's important to find healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

●Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of diabetes-related complications, such as cardiovascular disease and nerve damage.

●Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help monitor blood sugar levels, check for complications, and make adjustments to treatment plans as needed.

By being aware of the dangers presented by diabetes and taking steps to prevent or better control the situation, people can avoid the serious health consequences diabetes often produces.

That’s why if a person has diabetes, worries that they might, or simply considers themselves a candidate to get the condition in the future, it is important that they work closely with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized treatment plan for diabetes management.

Article by
James Brown
Hello,I'm James, an editor at BeWellFinder, where I'm dedicated to sharing my expertise to provide you with valuable insights.

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