Diabetes: A Global Health Challenge

Diabetes has become a serious public health problem over the past few years. Approximately, 5 million people aged between 20-79 years died from diabetes in 2015, as estimated by the International Diabetes Federation. Diabetes can induce heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, extremity amputations, and other chronic conditions. It is associated with poor performance in visuo- spatial skills, language, and memory (Zhao et al. 2015). The cost of diabetes treatment are very high. It was estimated by the American Diabetes Association

  • (ADA) that diabetes cost USD 132 billion in 2002; however, this number might underestimate the true burden of diabetes (Hogan et al. 2003). We should be aware of the following distinguishing features of type 2 diabetes:
    • 1. The morbidity rate is increasing rapidly. The prevalence of diabetes for all age groups worldwide was estimated to be 2.8% in 2000 and 4.4% in 2030. The total number of people with diabetes is projected to rise from 171 million in 2000 to 366 million in 2030 (Wild et al. 2004). In the United States,
    • 29.1 million people have diabetes, and 25% of them do not know that they have it (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014).
    • 2. Many people suffer from prediabetes. In 2009-2012, based on fasting glucose or HbA1C levels, 37% of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older had prediabetes. Of the people with prediabetes, 9 out of 10 do not know that they have it (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014).
    • 3. Diabetes usually occurs in older people. However, increasing numbers of young people are diagnosed with diabetes today, especially in developing countries. In 2012, approximately 208,000 people who were younger than 20 years have been diagnosed as having diabetes (type 1 or type 2), which represents 0.25% of the people in this age group in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014).
    • 4. African, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Natives are more prone to developing diabetes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014).
    • 5. Men are at a higher risk of diabetes than women; however, some studies have found that the difference is diminished or even reversed in the population aged 50 and older (Bu et al. 2015).
    • 6. People living a life of poverty are more prone to developing diabetes.

Prevention and Treatment of Diabetes: Medication or Lifestyle?

Most people at the prediabetes stage should focus on lifestyle changes (Gupta et al. 2014; Thomas et al. 2010). The International Diabetes Federation recommended the following to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes (International Diabetes Federation 2014):

  • 1. Thirty minutes of exercise each day can help reduce the risk by 40%.
  • 2. A balanced and nutritious diet is essential (Gupta et al. 2014).
  • 3. Stop smoking if you are a smoker.
  • 4. Live a balanced life and avoid stress and depression.
  • 5. Have 6-9 h of good sleep each night, neither too much nor too little.

With good practices, prediabetes can be reversed, and diabetes can be prevented from progressing. Diabetes complications can also be avoided by living a healthy lifestyle (Wilson 2015). When prediabetes progresses to type 2 diabetes, then medication is needed. Medication with lifestyle modifications helps in preventing the complications of diabetes.

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