Raising Awareness About Diabetes

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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November is American Diabetes Month and acting Secretary of Health Everette James today reminded Pennsylvanians that there are steps they can take to reduce the risk of becoming diabetic.

"Diabetes rates continue to rise, making the disease a serious -- and expensive -- health problem in Pennsylvania," said James. "Studies show many cases of diabetes can be delayed or prevented if people adopt some basic healthy behaviors. We want every Pennsylvanian to know the risk factors, the impacts on their health and how the disease can be managed."

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when a person's pancreas does not produce, or stops producing, insulin (Type 1 diabetes), or is not producing enough insulin and/or the body cannot use it (Type 2 diabetes). Insulin is a hormone that converts sugar and starches from food into energy.

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Although the causes of diabetes are not certain, genetics and lifestyle factors, such as obesity and lack of physical activity, are related to its development.

Diabetes affects nearly 24 million people in the U.S., including nearly 800,000 in Pennsylvania. New federal data shows a 90 percent increase in the number of diabetes cases reported nationwide over the past decade. This growth is a key contributor to rising health care costs. According to a recent report by the American Diabetes Association, diabetes cost $174 billion nationally in 2007 in direct costs and productivity losses, up from $132 billion the previous year.

Diabetes treatment drugs are becoming more expensive. According to a study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the cost of diabetes medications in the U.S. increased by 87 percent to $12.5 billion in 2007 from $6.7 billion in 2001.

For those who already have diabetes, it is very important to manage the disease and prevent complications by maintaining a healthy weight and getting adequate physical activity. The consequences of not properly managing the disease can include damage to the eyes, kidneys, feet, nerves, and cardiovascular system.

The Pennsylvania Diabetes Action Partnership, convened by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, focuses on increasing the quality of life for individuals with diabetes and preventing its onset by working through a partnership of more than 300 organizations and individuals across the state to implement the objectives of the statewide Pennsylvania Diabetes Action Plan.

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