The New York Times
One of the most serious and costly healthy problem in
She notes that the prevalence of diabetes nearly doubled in the American adult population: to 8.7 percent in 2002, from 4.9 percent in 1990. Furthermore, an estimated one-third of Americans with Type 2 diabetes don’t even know they have it.
An estimated 18.2 million Americans now have diabetes, 90 percent of them the environmentally influenced type that used to be called adult-onset diabetes. But adults are no longer the only victims – a trend that prompted an official change in name in 1997 to Type 2 diabetes.
More and more children are developing this health-robbing disease or its precursor, pre-diabetes. Counting children and adults together, some 41 million Americans, have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level that typically precedes the development of full-blown diabetes.
What is the reason for this runaway epidemic? Being overweight or obese, especially with the accumulation of large amounts of body fat around the abdomen. In Kaufman’s first 15 years as a pediatric endocrinologist, 1978 to 1993, she wrote, “I never saw a young patient with Type 2 diabetes. But then everything changed.”
Diabetes – with its consequences of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, amputations and blindness, among others – already ranks No. 1 in direct health-care costs, consuming $1 of every $7 spent on health care.Many changes are needed to combat this epidemic, starting with schools and parents. Perhaps the quickest changes can be made in the workplace, where people can be encouraged to use stairs instead of elevators; vending machines can be removed or dispense only healthful snacks; and cafeterias can offer attractive healthful fare.