Diabetes is on the Rise

Diabetes is on the rise, and it’s quickly becoming the most common metabolic disease around the globe. As of 2014, the number of adults with diabetes was a staggering 415 million worldwide (1 in 11 adults), and the number is expected to rise to 642 million (1 in 10 adults) by 2040 according to the World Health Organization. We’re in the middle of a full-blown pandemic. Diabetes is different from any other epidemic or pandemic we’ve ever encountered across our history because, unlike most previous breakouts, diabetes is not an infectious disease. The effects of diabetes are not immediate, and therefore, it’s not perceived to be as serious or dangerous as other conditions. It’s initial symptoms come off as harmless: increased hunger, increased thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, increased urination, weight loss, and sores that don’t heal. Don’t be fooled. High blood glucose over time can lead to conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease (nephropathy), stroke, eye problems (renopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), dental disease, foot problems, skin conditions (bacterial and fungal infections), depression and dementia.

What is Diabetes Anyway?

Insulin and Glucagon Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Insulin and Glucagon Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

To understand what diabetes is, it's important to know that our bodies need to maintain a correct balance of sugar (glucose) in our blood. The hormones insulin and glucagon are directly responsible for the amount of sugar in our blood. Insulin allows sugar into our cells (think of a lock and key) to be used as fuel or stored as fat and therefore lowers blood sugar, while glucagon increases blood sugar. Diabetes occurs when insulin no longer functions as it was intended. In type one diabetes, the body doesn't make enough insulin, and in type two diabetes, the body doesn't respond to insulin as well as it should. Since insulin lowers blood sugar, the lack of insulin or improper utilization of it leads to a build-up of sugar in the blood.

Scary Facts About Diabetes

Picture credit to the CDC

Picture credit to the CDC

  • The global prevalence of diabetes* among adults over 18 years of age has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014.

  • Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves, and is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation.

  • Adults with diabetes have a two- to three-fold increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

  • Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and the eventual need for limb amputation.

  • Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. 2.6% of global blindness can be attributed to diabetes.

  • Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure.

  • In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2012**.

  • Almost half of all deaths attributable to high blood glucose occur before the age of 70 years. WHO estimates that diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2016.

  • 12% of global health expenditure is spent on diabetes ($673 billion)

Diabetes in the United States

According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 30 million people with diabetes and 1 in 4 don’t know they have it. Even worse, 84 million people (1 in 3 people) have pre-diabetes, meaning they are at risk for developing diabetes within 5 years without intervention, and 90% of them don’t know they have it. In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled as the American population has aged and become more overweight or obese. Diabetes is also the 7th leading cause of death in the US and may be under-reported.

Diabetes in Houston

According to data from Novo Nordisk, about 9.1% of all Houstonians are type two diabetics, and the number is predicted to rise to 20% by 2040. No surprise there, as Houston as been dubbed America’s most overweight city. 

Luckily, Houston is one of the cities worldwide participating in Cities Changing Diabetes. It also happens to be hosting the American Association for Diabetic Educators this year. We, the ChipMonk Team, will be participating in the event as diabetes is very dear to our hearts, and is one of the main reasons we started baking in the first place. Swing by for some of our cookies. The event will have more information on what you can do to take care of yourself to prevent, improve or reverse your diabetes. Hope to see you there!