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Type II Diabetes a Vast Problem in the U.S.

Type II Diabetes, or adult onset diabetes, is when your body does not use insulin properly.  This causes your blood sugar to rise to sometimes dangerous levels, with Type II Diabetes associated with skin complications, eye complications and nerve damage.  A recent Centers for Disease Control study found that the number of Americans with Type II Diabetes has risen since 2010, from 26 million to 29 million–a definite and serious increase.  Even more concerning is the fact that 1 in 4 individuals with Type II Diabetes is unaware that they have the disease.  Another 86 million Americans are what is known as “pre-diabetic”, which means high blood sugar levels that are just under the diagnostic standard for Type II Diabetes.

A Health Epidemic: Reducing the Burden of Diabetes

Health experts say that these new numbers are alarming and raise the urgent need to address the burden of diabetes in this country.  While Type I Diabetes is usually inherited and involves a dysfunction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, Type II Diabetes is closely related to obesity and develops over time.  Between 90 and 95 percent of the U.S. cases of diabetes are Type II, and without taking the proper measures of diet and exercise, those that are pre-diabetic are likely to join this group.  Sadly, diabetes is striking people at a younger age, with over 200,000 under the age of 2o diagnosed in 2012.  Furthermore, minorities seem to be the hardest hit groups, with African Americans, Hispanics and American Indian/Alaskan Natives being twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to whites.  However, experts say these numbers aren’t shocking for those working at the front lines of the diabetes epidemic, such as doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers.

The Economic, Physical and Medical Costs of Diabetes

In addition to the physical tolls of diabetes, including vision loss, stroke, kidney failure, limb amputation, heart disease and premature death, diabetes also has economic and medical costs.  For example, the CDC found that total medical costs and costs of lost work hours and wages associated with diabetes were estimated at $245 billion in 2012.  It is vital that the proper steps be taken to educate adults on diabetes care, such as lowering blood sugar through diet and exercise.  This also implies an adequate number of experts and resources for those affected by pre-diabetes or Type I and Type II Diabetes.

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