Yesterday was “Diabetes Alert Day” which urges people to take a diabetes risk test, and talk to a health care provider when their risk is shown to be high. Diabetes Alert Day looks to address the alarming estimate that more than 25% of diabetes cases have not been diagnosed (therefore, are not being treated). I couldn’t help but think how effective this campaign might be if every television ran the alert similar to a tornado warning- beep, beep, beep- severe diabetes alert!!!
The undiagnosed issue is only one element of the “severe diabetes alert.” In 2001 the CDC published a report about the rising incidence of diabetes in the U.S. The warning was that diabetes cases in the U.S. would approach 30,000,000 cases by the year 2050. This projection is represented by the dashed blue line above. Guess what? We made it to 30,000,000 cases 37 or 38 years ahead of schedule, as illustrated by the red line based upon the most recent report filed in 2011.
Coming in ahead of schedule may be desirable in some cases, but certainly not this one. And, while there may be some qualification to the data (use of A1C for diagnosis in 2011 numbers), that would only make previous estimates higher- the projection for 2050 looks more like 100,000,000 now, and that should be startling. Diabetes is clearly a public health emergency, and some wise people consider it a national security issue (based upon the economic impact).
We have managed to make remarkable “progress” heading in the wrong direction. The question is, how do we do an about face, and make equally remarkable progress in reducing the incidence of diabetes. Changing lifestyles is the only reasonable answer, and many political and economic interests have created a stiff headwind for sure. National diabetes months and alert days are always celebrated by those of us fighting this battle every day- it’s time those in power took note of these alerts. Sound the alarm.