The World Health Organization estimates the number of people suffering from diabetes worldwide now stands at well over 200 million. It believes this figure will rise to 370 million by 2030.
In the United States alone there are almost 26 million individuals living with diabetes; 7 million of them do not know they have it. The number is growing dramatically, as obesity – one of the causes of the disease – rises.
Diabetes kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer combined, and approximately 4,110 new cases of the disease are diagnosed each day.
Of those diagnosed with diabetes, 10% have Type 1. It is a disease that strikes children and adults suddenly and requires administering insulin daily.
Approximately 90% of people with diabetes have Type 2, a condition where prevention is possible in many cases. The disease usually occurs in adults; however recently more and more children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. While our genes and our culture can play an important role, diabetes is also linked with being overweight and insufficient exercise.
There are also an estimated 54 million people with pre-diabetes, a diagnosis given to individuals who have glucose levels above normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. The predicted 54 million people who currently have pre-diabetes in the United States have 5-15 times the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. As there are usually no symptoms associated with pre-diabetes, people remain undiagnosed.
Diabetes and pre-diabetes should concern all of us, with prevention our goal. Why?
Obesity among children is a growing epidemic that has tripled over the last three decades. Without successful intervention, many children are not expected to live longer, healthier lives than their parents. Over the years, those in all age groups with diabetes are at significantly higher risk of having heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, and blindness. Following a healthy eating and exercise plan is therefore essential in optimizing weight, health, and reducing risk for both Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes development. The American Diabetes Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity each week to maintain good health.
Hadassah Medical Organization News About Diabetes
As reported in the October 2011 hNews, hope is on the horizon for people with Type 1 (Juvenile) diabetes, thanks to a breakthrough discovery that identified the body's signal that prompts production of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The work on the multi-year project was led by HMO Professor Benjamin Glaser and Dr.Yuval Dor, of the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada at the Hebrew University. The research, described in a recent issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, could lead to ways of restoring or increasing beta cell function. This could point the way toward a cure for diabetes. The study was funded with the support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Further research in this area is proceeding, with the eventual goal of progressing towards human clinical trials.
A recent study conducted at the Hadassah Medical Organization demonstrated that the Body Mass Index (BMI) of children who receive additional physical education classes at school is considerably lower than those who do not. The results of the research were published in Nature and the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "In the past, children would come home from school, toss their backpacks aside and run out to play," said Professor Michael Wilschanski, director of Hadassah's Pediatric Gastroenterology Unit, who led the research team. "Today, they sit in front of a computer or a television, hardly exercising at all. Therefore, it is not surprising that the rate of child and adult obesity has strongly increased in the past few years." The recommendation is to add physical education classes to the school curriculum to control weight and teach children healthy eating habits.
For further information on diabetes, please check out: www. hadassah.org.il.