Source: USA Today
By Marry Brophy Marcus
The future of diabetes in America looks bleak, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report out today, with cases projected to double, even triple, by 2050.
“There are some positive reasons why we see prevalence going up. People are living longer with diabetes due to good control of blood sugar and diabetes medications, and we’re also diagnosing people earlier now,” says Ann Albright, director of the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation.
A more diverse America – including growing populations of minority groups such as African Americans and Hispanics, who are more at risk for the disease – factors into the increase as well, Albright says. But an increasing number of overweight Americans also is fueling the stark predictions for diabetes, which should be taken seriously, Albright says.
Diabetes is the No. 1 reason for adult blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation, and it’s a large contributor to heart attacks and strokes, she says. “It’s also now linked to a form of dementia, some forms of cancer and some forms of lung disease. Diabetes impacts so many systems in the body,” Albright says.
Programs and policies to prevent obesity and diabetes need to be put in place at every level, says Duke University Medical Center endocrinologist Susan Spratt, who says schools are a good place to start. Healthful food options in schools and daily physical education classes should be a priority, she says.
“Vending machines should not sell sugar soda or candy bars. School fundraisers should not revolve around unhealthy food,” says Spratt, who adds that cities need to be pedestrian-friendly, bike-friendly and safe.
A price will be paid if the projections go unheeded, experts say. The CDC estimates the current cost of diabetes at $174 billion annually, $116 billion of which is in direct medical costs.
Previous research has suggested that the financial burden may easily double in the next 20 years, says David Kendall, chief scientific and medical officer of the American Diabetes Association.
“The financial burden is potentially a very, very troublesome one,” Kendall says. “There’s a dual message here: prevention where it’s feasible, and critical and early intervention for those already diagnosed,” he says.