Open Wide for Diabetes Awareness

National Diabetes Month highlights need for diabetes education, prevention

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) November is National Diabetes Month, and this year’s theme is "Eat Well, America!"

The aim of this year's campaign is to share an important message: A healthy diet can help with diabetes management and prevention.

Diabetes is a group of conditions that affect how the body uses glucose (blood sugar). Glucose is vital to health because it's an important source of energy for the cells that make up the body's muscles and tissues. It's also the brain's main source of fuel.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas doesn't produce any insulin (a hormone needed to allow sugar to enter the body's cells). In type 2 diabetes, the far more common type, the body either resists the effects of insulin or doesn't produce enough. Complications from both types can include heart, kidney, nerve and eye diseases.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), eating well means more than eating healthily. Eating well means enjoying food that is delicious, nutritious and simple to prepare.

Each week in November, the ADA will introduce new recipes for meals, snacks, holidays and other special occasions — all in the hope of inspiring Americans to eat well by equipping them with tips for planning and preparing healthy meals at home.

National Healthy Lunch Day, the ADA’s annual celebration of nutritious eating, will spotlight what healthy, simple and delicious meals look like. On Nov. 17, the ADA asks Americans to make or buy a healthy lunch, and encourage their employers to provide healthy alternatives. People are also asked to share their healthy lunch photos using the hashtag #MyHealthyLunch.

Here are just a few of the recent statistics on diabetes, according to the ADA:

  • Nearly 30 million children and adults in the US currently have diabetes.
  • Another 86 million have prediabetes, and 9 out of 10 don't know it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
  • Every 19 seconds, someone in the US is diagnosed with diabetes.
  • And recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 US adults will have diabetes by 2050 — unless steps are taken to reduce this risk.

Diabetes takes a toll on Americans, too. Diabetes nearly doubles the risk of heart attack and death from heart disease, according to the ADA. It's also the leading cause of kidney failure and new cases of blindness among working-age adults.

The ADA estimates that the total annual cost of diagnosed diabetes in the US is $245 billion, and 1 in 10 US health care dollars is spent treating diabetes and its complications.

In spite of these statistics, diabetes can be well-managed with proper treatment and healthy lifestyle choices.

While living with diabetes can be challenging, making healthy choices can have a big effect on the course of the disease — and on a patient's quality of life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC says patients should follow a healthy eating plan, stay active, take their diabetes medications as prescribed and test their blood sugar regularly.

Diabetes risk factors include being overweight, being age 45 or older, having a parent or sibling with diabetes, being physically active fewer than three times per week, having gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant) or giving birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds. Race and ethnicity may also affect diabetes risk.

If you have any of these risk factors, the CDC recommends asking your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you find out your diabetes risk, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future.

Review Date: 
November 9, 2015
Last Updated:
November 10, 2015