Diabetes is an insidious disease that has been growing in prevalence across the globe, but most notably in Western civilizations. For example, new data has revealed that in the United Kingdom, the incidence of diabetes has increased by a shocking 75 percent in just 10 years.
In the UK alone, 137,000 new cases of diabetes have been reported by physicians in the last year, and 1.5 million new cases have been reported over the last decade. The greatest contributor to this massive influx of diabetes, of course, is type 2 diabetes.
The United States has not fared any better when it comes to diabetes. Between the years 1995 and 2010, the CDC reports that the incidence of diabetes increased by an average of 82.2 percent nationwide. In 18 states, diabetes prevalence increased by 100 percent or more. In 2012, it was estimated that over 29 million Americans had diabetes.
Across the pond, experts are warning that this disease is reaching crisis proportions. Approximately 65 people die a premature death at the hands of diabetes in the UK every day. In the States, diabetes is one of the top 10 leading causes of death. Death is not the only undesirable outcome of diabetes, of course. This condition is known for contributing to other diseases and ill effects. For example, the UK’s Express reports, “Each day 203 diabetics suffer heart failure, 78 have strokes, 39 people need dialysis or kidney transplants and 20 people have legs amputated.”
Chris Askew, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, minces no words when he says, “Diabetes is a killer. It’s a serious condition with serious, life-threatening complications.”
One of the biggest issues with diabetes is that most people do not take it seriously enough. As Dr. John Buse, a professor of medicine at University of North Carolina Medical School, said, “It’s a disease where even when people are diagnosed, they often think, ‘Oh, diabetes — they check your sugar. It’s not such a bid deal.'” Even some medical professionals do not take it seriously.
In surveys, diabetes is generally ranked as being about half as serious as conditions like cancer and heart disease, but that really couldn’t be further from the truth. Diabetes is a life-threatening disease. There is a huge disconnect between people’s perception of diabetes and the reality of the disease. There are many complications associated with this condition. Heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, foot ulcers and amputations, retinopathy and eye conditions are just some of the health problems associated with diabetes. Cognitive function and mental health can also become impaired as a result of diabetes. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing dementia as they age, and they are more likely to experience memory problems. Diabetes also doubles the risk of depression.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that is generally brought about by lifestyle and eating habits. Express notes that the type 2 diabetes crisis is a result of the ever-expanding obesity epidemic. In an attempt to cull the rising prevalence of diabetes, NHS England launched what they are calling the Diabetes Prevention Programme. The program seeks to offer advice on healthy eating, weight loss, exercise regimes and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
In the UK, treatment of diabetes and its effects eats up about 10 percent of the NHS’s yearly budget. It is not a cheap illness to have, and many are growing concerned over its ever-increasing costs. Experts fear that is just a matter of time before hospitals will be forced to pick and choose which conditions they can treat. Martin Claridge, a vascular surgeon, commented, “I am worried. The NHS will have to decide what conditions it does or does not treat and that is a very difficult decision to make.”
The prospects for the United States do not seem to be looking any brighter. In 2012, the total cost of diabetes to the US reached $245 billion. Adjusted averages revealed that the cost of care for a person with diabetes was more than double that of a person without diabetes.
Diabetes is a huge problem in Western society that needs to be addressed and acknowledged, not just by the government, but by every single person – especially those at risk or already diagnosed. In 2013, data released by the CDC showed that only 16 percent of diabetics managed their condition with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes like weight loss. That means that 84 percent of diagnosed diabetics are relying on medication. While it is true that sometimes weight loss and dietary changes still may not be enough, does it really seem plausible that the overwhelming majority of people are actually doing their best to fight their condition and are still unable to manage their diabetes without drugs?
The goal of mainstream medicine has not been to help people with diabetes to lead normal lives – it has been to keep them alive long enough to keep renewing their prescriptions.