On the cusp of National Diabetes Month, an education program out of the National Institutes for Health and Centers for Disease Control is unveiling a campaign for greater awareness: You Are the Center of Your Diabetes Care Team.
“[This year’s theme means] that it’s the patient who is the most important person and member of their diabetes care team, so the goal is to try to empower the patient to know as much as they can about diabetes,” said Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (NIDDK)
An estimated one in four Americans living with the disease don’t know they have diabetes, which can result in serious complications.
“Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in this country, leading cause of kidney disease and kidney failure,” Rodgers said.
Affecting more than 30 million Americans, diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high, either because your body doesn’t make enough or use insulin well.
It’s largely broken down into two types.
“The more common variety is type 2 diabetes,” Rodgers said. “This condition, which affects about 95 percent of that 30 million that I mentioned, accounts for the disease that is really of the epidemic proportion in this country.”
In Maryland, 29 percent of adults are obese and 36 percent are overweight. These are the highest percentages in the DMV area.
Both are factors increasing the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.
Over Rodgers’ 11 years as director, the number of diabetes diagnoses increased by more than 10 million.
He said as the obesity percentages and senior population increase, so do type 2 cases.
But over the course of Rodgers’ career, the scope of diabetes research has shifted; right now, researchers are looking at type 3c.
“The important thing about these individuals is that this chronic pancreatitis may be a harbinger for pancreatic cancer,” Rodgers said. “Distinguishing typical type 2 diabetes from type 3c (Pancreatogenic) is very important.”
You can learn more about diabetes here.