Diabetes is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most common diseases. One of the worst suffering countries is the USA where diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death among US citizens.

An estimated 24 million Americans (8% of the population) have been hit by the diabetes epidemic in the US, and a further 17.9 million being diagnosed. Around 90% of the country’s diabetics have type 2 diabetes

This is a stark contrast from the 21 million diabetics in 2002, a figure that constituted approximately 7% of the total population. It was estimated that 14.6 million people had been diagnosed with the condition in 2002, with 6 million unaware that they were suffering from the disease.

Serious health problems brought on by diabetes are a major issue in America and affect a significant number of people.

Pre-Diabetes in America

Pre-diabetes is at epidemic levels in the United States, with a reported figure of 41 million people affected/ Long-term damage to the body, later manifested as the complications of diabetes, may already be occurring in pre-diabetics.

In American, gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women.

There are about 135,000 cases of gestational diabetes in America every year. Furthermore, in American, one out of every ten healthcare dollars is spent on treating or managing diabetes and its related complications. In 2002, the total economic cost for the year of diabetes healthcare was estimated at $132 billion.

According to official figures, roughly three out of five diabetics develop at least one of the other serious health problems associated with the disease such as heart disease, stroke, eye damage, kidney disease, nervous system damage and foot problems that can lead to amputations.

However, many people with Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 (type 2 diabetes), which accounts for around 90% to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, develop more than one other serious health problem. Statistics show that approximately:

  • 1 out of 10 people (10.3%) with the disease has 2 other serious health problems
  • 1 out of 15 people (6.7%) with the disease has 3 other serious health problems
  • 1 out of 13 people (7.6%) with the disease has 4 or more other serious health problems

The US government is desperately trying to stem the outbreak of diabetes. Doctors and health organisations across the country are increasing their efforts in getting the public to adopt healthy lifestyle changes, that can protect against type 2 diabetes, or at the very least, help diabetics control the disease.

Diabetes Research

Researchers in the US are also doing their part by constantly looking to develop new drugs to help people manage their diabetes more effectively.

Unfortunately, reports show that Americans are making slow progress in adopting such changes to their daily routines. The country’s fast food lifestyle combined with a lack of exercise means a high percentage of both adults and children in the US are either overweight or obese, and are therefore more likely to develop diabetes at some stage.

There is also a concern that some type 2 diabetes medications, such as Avandia, are increasing the risk of heart attack, which has led to many diabetics abandoning their medication and leaving their diabetes untreated.

The financial cost of diabetes in America

In 2008, the diabetes epidemic sweeping across America cost the nation an estimated $218 billion (£150 billion), equal to roughly 10% of all health care expenditure by the US government and the public.

The enormous figure takes into account direct medical care costs, from insulin and pills for controlling patients’ blood sugar levels to amputations and hospitalisations, plus indirect costs such as lost productivity, disability and early retirement.

Last year’s costs (medical and indirect) for people known to have type 1 or type 2 diabetes were estimated at $174.4 billion combined. The rest of the figure consists of estimates for Americans who haven’t yet been diagnosed ($18 billion), women who develop diabetes temporarily during pregnancy – known as gestational diabetes – ($636 million), and those on course to develop diabetes – an increasingly common condition called pre-diabetes ($25 billion).

Furthermore, between 1994 and 2007 the average number of diabetes medications prescribed per patient rose from 1.14 to 1.63, while estimated yearly patient visits for diabetes care increased from 25 million to 36 million over the same period.

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