Battling Diabetes

battling diabetes

Dan Hurley, in his book Diabetes Rising, published in 2010, has examined a recent University of Chicago study that estimates the rates in diabetes increasing in children and adults will double over the next 25 years. That's a significant statistic that should make everyone keenly aware of diabetes, its symptoms, and its impact on the US population.

Hurley asks if diabetes is becoming more common because Americans are getting heavier. He says in his book that Americans' weight has been inching upwards, but more seriously, diabetes is now five times more common than when it existed in the population during World War II. Type I diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, according to Hurley, was not traditionally associated with weight, and is now increasing by 2 to 3% each year.

He also asks how scientists go about explaining the increase in diabetes with certain members of the population. Hurley says there are several working hypotheses and one is that slight increases in weight do raise kids' risk of getting type 1 diabetes. Another hypotheses is that a lack of vitamin D, also known as "the sunshine vitamin," also raises the risk of diabetes. Still another is because kids aren't exposed to nearly as many germs today, their immune systems are extremely and overly sensitive. Also, some environmental toxins, perhaps stored in the fat cells of the body, have been linked to diabetes too.

An explanation of "diabetes clusters" is also presented in Hurley's book. Hurley says epidemiologists have started see the significance of certain geographic areas in high rates of diabetes. The Boston suburbs are one example of a community which has particularly high rates of type I diabetes in children. If a child contracts measles, a doctor must report that to the CDC. Hurley says the same should hold for the cases of type I diabetes that are discovered in children.

Hurley's book asks, "How else should we be fighting diabetes to win the battle?" He maintains that choices for healthy living should be as easy and accessible as it is to purchase fast food in America. Eating right and getting enough exercise is important for adults and children, he maintains. And he says it is important for everyone whether they have diabetes or not.

According to Hurley's book, 23 million people in the U.S. have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and if that growth continues, one-third of the American population might become affected by the disease.

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