A Time For Reflection: National Diabetes Month and International Diabetes Day

| Nov 1, 2007

Nearly 21 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, and another 54 million people are knocking at that door. Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the nation and may well be the most serious health problem facing America today. Nevertheless, the public doesn't seem to grasp the gravity of the situation, at least not like they did with polio, for instance, or AIDS.

In an effort to focus the public mind on just how devastating diabetes is becoming, we designate November of every year as National Diabetes Month. Within that month is another landmark: the sixteenth annual World Diabetes Day is being observed on November 14 in honor of the birthdate of Frederick Banting, who, along with Charles Best, discovered insulin in 1921. World Diabetes Day was also named a special United Nations Day in 2006, when a landmark resolution on the subject was passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Both the day and the month aim not only to raise public awareness, but also to honor the dedicated people who work with diabetes and the millions who live with it. This year the special focus of World Diabetes Day is on how diabetes affects children and adolescents throughout the world. It's a growing problem, evidenced by both an alarming increase in type 2 in children and an upswing in the numbers of children who are being diagnosed with type 1.

The focus of National Diabetes Month varies from week to week. Week One honors the caregivers and companions whose lives are affected by the diabetes of their loved ones. Week Two focuses on the workplace, encouraging employers to promote healthy lifestyles for their employees in the war on type 2 diabetes. Week Three concentrates on the global epidemic: over 246 million people have diabetes worldwide, and seven million more get it every year. By 2020, the total will be around 380 million!

Week Four emphasizes the devastation that diabetes is wreaking on ethnic populations. African-Americans, Hispanics, and indigenous Americans have especially high rates of diabetes. If current trends continue, one in two minorities born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime. The bonus week, Week Five, focuses on children, one in 400 of whom has been stricken with type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes is already having devastating human, social, and economic impacts. If things don't change, it could swamp healthcare services in many countries, including the United States. November is a month to come together to reflect on the implications of diabetes, personally, nationally, and globally. Hopefully, our reflections will spur us to take action against this calamitous epidemic.

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Categories: Beginners, Diabetes, Diabetes, Insulin, Kids & Teens, Professional Issues, Type 1 Issues, Type 2 Issues

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Nov 1, 2007

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