Diabetic Dilemma

An assignment for Print story.   

This is distilled in my concise writing blog, Basically in a Nutshell and Make it Quick!

Part one in a series on type two diabetes

Grandma Tucker lived to 75, but the last ten years on dialysis were extremely difficult. Before her kidneys failed, other complications had set in. Blindness, foot amputation, and several small strokes had severely diminished the quality of her life. Her relatives said after her diagnosis 20 years ago Grandma Tucker refused to change her ways just because she had “a little of the diabetes”.

Diabetes is traditionally seen as an “old age” ailment that is nothing serious to worry about. The truth is adult diabetics in the United States have more than tripled from 493,000 in 1980 to over 1.5 million in 2011. In fact, it’s the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and is considered an epidemic across the nation. Diabetes has more deaths than breast cancer and AIDS combined according to ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.


Total (inc. Survivors)

Diagnosed / Year

Deaths / Year





Breast Cancer








There is also an alarming increase of type two diabetes in people under twenty. More than 20,000 adolescents and teens in the United States now have Type 2 diabetes compared with almost none 20 years ago.  Diagnoses of the disease among young people could climb 400 percent by 2050. One out of every three children born after 2000 in the United States will be directly affected by diabetes according to the federal estimates.


In the Unites States more than 20-percent of obese adults are diabetics, compared to 7 percent of non-obese adults,” states the Well-being Index published by Gallup-Healtlthways.  The data points to the upward trends in obesity rates playing a substantive role in the increase in diabetes rates. “Obesity is the biggest risk factor that’s changeable and we haven’t been able to tackle the obesity,” said Dr. Besser.

The obesity rate in Florida is on track to hit close to 59-percent by 2030.  That’s more than double the almost 27 percent it is today, as reported in the Orlando Sentinel. Floridians are increasingly feeling the effects of diabetes …many may have diabetes and not know it. “Between 120 and 130 thousand people in Duval County could have diabetes without knowing it,” says Amanda Intravaia, the communications officer of the Jacksonville ADA chapter. “We have a quick risk assessment on our website that helps people see if they are at risk for diabetes.”

Obesity isn’t the only risk associated with type two diabetes. Family history, ethnicity, age, and lifestyle are also important factors to be considered. Certain ethnic groups suffer disproportionately from diabetes. Ethnicity based programs are available for high these risk groups. Thanks to ADA efforts, doctors can sign patients up directly for these programs at the time of diagnosis

Hereditary factors such as ethnicity and family history can’t be changed, but maintaining a proper weight and a healthy lifestyle are within everyone’s grasp. The ADA offers community outreach programs such as “Living with Type II Diabetes”. This free, 12-month program provides support for the newly diagnosed patients. The program focuses on guiding people through their first year of living with diabetes. Common misconceptions about the disease are also addressed.

It’s not true diabetics can never eat sweets. And everyone can enjoy pasta, breads and starchy vegetables in correct portion sizes. A balance of complex carbohydrates and lean protein are crucial to avoiding spikes in blood sugar. Endocrinologists, registered dietitians, or local diabetic supports groups are great resources for dietary guidelines.

While Diet and exercise are the most important tools in controlling type two diabetes, there are some people who need the addition of prescribed medications in order to properly control the disease. Heart disease, kidney failure, circulatory issues, blindness, neuropathy and death are possible side effects of uncontrolled diabetes. Intravaia emphasized the importance of early detection, “We encourage everyone to talk to their doctors about their risk of diabetes. Prompt treatment can reduce the burden of diabetes and its complications”

The next story for “The diabetic Dilemma” series will follow one man’s journey from  the devastating diagnosis to the break through tool that made all the difference in taking control of his health.


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