The Diabetes Epidemic in America




Dunks, Leah N.
Hagenasr, Daniela
Gotlib, Daniel
Avellan, Andrea


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Purpose: Diabetes (DM) is a chronic disease that results from either childhood onset autoimmune destruction of insulin producing pancreatic beta cells (Type 1 Diabetes (T1DM)) or the adult onset inability to effectively utilize the insulin it produces (Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM)). Once considered to be a disease of little significance, DM has grown to be one of the largest medical issues of the 21st century. T2DM is estimated to account for 90% of cases globally. The strong correlation of DM and obesity has lead to the utilization of the term “diabesity’. T1DM continues to be the leading form of DM in children, but T2DM is projected to become the main cause of childhood DM. In this study we discuss the symptoms, mechanisms and statistics of the DM epidemic, and highlight the importance of an increase in T2DM. This analysis is also aimed to promote awareness and education by identifying resources at a national level, as well as resources readily available in Tarrant County. Methods: Our review of the literature was conducted as an evaluative assessment, and focused on the growing trend of DM in society. Our search criteria included assessing lifestyle habits, diet, etiology, and epidemiology of DM. Relevant articles and statistics were identified by a systematic search of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, American Diabetes Association, and PubMeD databases. Results: In the US DM affects 29.1 million people.This figure accounts for the approximately 8.1 million undiagnosed cases. Ethnicity can often increase chances for developing DM, with Native Americans being most at risk. Additionally, CDC research has shown that while having just one relative diagnosed with DM can increase your chances four-fold, the likelihood continues to increase with each subsequent diagnosis. New DM cases are occurring exponentially in the United States as never before. Fortunately, National Diabetes Wellness, Education and Prevention programs at a federal level, and University of North Texas Health Science Center, JPS Health network at a local level provide DM education, care and management at reduced or no cost. Conclusions: Unlike many other diseases DM requires not only medication, but a complete lifestyle change. Despite programs on the national and local level the number of new cases of T2DM and T1DM continue to rise. Future recommendations might include mandatory public school DM education, offering longer recess time, as well as walking desks for older students.