The Fear of Being Diagnosed with Diabetes
< Mar. 25, 2009 > -- A new survey reveals that more than half of Americans fear developing diabetes, but many continue unhealthy behaviors that increase their odds of getting the blood sugar disease.
"I think people continue the risky behaviors because they think - It's not going to happen to me," says Dr. Richard M. Bergenstal, president-elect for medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), which commissioned the survey. "Or, they know they are at risk but they are so ingrained in their daily lifestyle, they have not been motivated to change."
The 21st annual American Diabetes Alert Day was Tuesday, and results of a recent ADA survey - Is That Risky? - was released to raise awareness of diabetes and its risk factors. This yearly event serves as a "wake-up" call to educate the public about the impact of diabetes on an individual's lifestyle and health.
Results of the "Is That Risky?" Survey
On behalf of the ADA, a company called Harris Interactive conducted an online survey that polled 2,516 Americans, aged 18 years and older. This survey was conducted between February 26 and March 2, 2009.
Survey participants chose from a pre-identified list of questions. Fifty-two percent of respondents said having a chronic illness was the worst thing imaginable, in comparison with the following responses:
Most alarming, about half of the participants reported they have not discussed common chronic diseases - diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, or Alzheimer's disease - with their physician.
The majority of respondents knew at least one risk factor for diabetes, while less than half could identify their own risk factors, such as being overweight. Surprisingly, half of the respondents mistakenly identified "eating too much" as a risk factor for this disease.
Other key findings of the survey were: 70 percent answered that maintaining an unhealthy weight is risky; 46 percent admitted to being overweight; and 66 percent said avoiding physicians is risky, yet 50 percent admitted to the behavior.
"It's pretty amazing, the level of inactivity and poor eating," says Dr. Bergenstal, who is also executive director of the International Diabetes Center at Park-Nicollet Health Services in Minneapolis. "Most people must know it's not good for them."
Dr. Bergenstal also feels that some people are in denial and think that unhealthy behavior, such as poor eating habits and lack of exercise, will not affect them.
American Diabetes Alert Day
"We started doing Diabetes Alert Day 21 years ago," Dr. Bergenstal says. At that time, about 6 million people in the US was diagnosed with diabetes. "Now, 20 years later, 18 million are diagnosed," he says, with almost 24 million either diagnosed or suspected of having this condition.
"It's gone up 300 percent in 20 years," Dr. Bergenstal adds.
The American Diabetes Alert Day campaign encourages everyone to take the Diabetes Risk Test to learn about the seriousness of developing type 2 diabetes. This test identifies risk factors, such as age, family history, and unhealthy behavior.
Always consult your physician for more information.
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What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by a failure to secrete enough insulin, or, in some cases, the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Insulin is produced primarily in the pancreas, and, normally, is readily available to move glucose into the cells.
The hormone insulin must be present before glucose is able to move into the cells of the body. Because insulin is needed by the body to convert glucose into energy, these failures result in abnormally high levels of glucose accumulating in the blood.
In persons with diabetes, either the pancreas produces too little or no insulin, or the cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. This causes a build-up of glucose in the blood, which passes into the urine where it is eventually eliminated, leaving the body without its main source of fuel.
The three main types of diabetes - type 1, type 2, and gestational - are all defined as metabolic disorders that affect the way the body metabolizes, or uses, digested food to make glucose, the main source of fuel for the body. These types are similar in the build-up of blood glucose due to problems with insulin, but the cause and treatment are different.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, resulting in no or a low amount of insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily in order to live.
Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death among Americans, and the fifth leading cause of death from disease. Although it is believed that diabetes is under-reported as a condition leading to or causing death, each year, more than 200,000 deaths are reported as being caused by diabetes or its complications. Complications of diabetes include eye problems and blindness, heart disease, stroke, neurological problems, amputation, and impotence.
Because diabetes (with the exception of gestational diabetes) is a chronic, incurable disease that affects nearly every part of the body, contributes to other serious diseases, and can be life threatening, it must be managed under the care of a physician throughout a person's life. It can also result from other conditions such as genetic syndromes, chemicals, drugs, malnutrition, infections, viruses, or other illnesses.
Always consult your physician for more information.
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