Diabetes a Common Growing and Costly Public Health Problem

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DIABETES: A COMMON, GROWING AND COSTLY HEALTH PROBLEM 2 Diabetes: A Common, Growing and Costly Health Problem in the U.S. According to H. King in Global burden of diabetes, 1995–2025: prevalence, numerical estimates, and projections, an estimated 135 million people worldwide had diagnosed diabetes in 1995 and this number is expected to rise to 300 million by the year 2025. In other words, diabetes rates are expected to increase from 4.0% in 1995 to 5.4% by the year 2025. The countries with the largest number of people with diabetes are India, China and the U.S. Diabetes is a serious health problem in the United States. An estimated 26 million people are living with this disease. An estimated 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes or have high blood sugar levels, therefore putting them at high risk for developing the disease in the near future. Diabetes is also the seventh leading cause of death in 2007 accounting for more than 71,382 deaths (National Diabetes Statistics 2011). As the population ages and obesity rates increase, this trend is expected to worsen. Moreover, in 2007, the U.S. spent a mind-boggling $218 billion on direct and indirect costs (National Diabetes Statistics 2011). The growing number of diabetic cases is due to the lack of physical activity and excess calories accumulation as one ages. The problem can only be overcome through lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, regular physical activity and dietary changes. Given the human and economic toll of diabetes, as well as the increased risks for a host of other serious medical conditions, there is an imperative need to implement effective strategies to reduce the burden, create awareness of the disease and prevent it in order to promote a healthy lifestyle for Americans of all ethnic groups and ages. DIABETES: A COMMON, GROWING AND COSTLY HEALTH PROBLEM 3 What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. When a person has diabetes, the blood sugar increases and over time leads to serious damage of the nerves, blood vessels and other body systems. There are three main types of diabetes. Deficient insulin production causes type 1 diabetes and people with this disease require daily administrations of insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not effectively use insulin. Almost 90% of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in women and is first recognized during pregnancy. Diabetes in the U.S. – Past, Current and Projected Rates According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from 1997 through 2002, the number of new cases of diagnosed diabetes per year increased from 878,000 to 1,291,000 (a 47% increase). It is also projected that through 2050, there will be 165% increase, a rise from 11 million to 29 million diagnosed persons (Diabetes: A National Plan for Action). This does not including the number of undiagnosed cases. According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages in the U.S. This is about 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. Of this, 18.8 million people were diagnosed while 7.0 million people were undiagnosed (2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet). DIABETES: A COMMON, GROWING AND COSTLY HEALTH PROBLEM 4 Age, Gender and Racial Differences in Diabetes Rates