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Why diabetes is on the rise in young people; BWMC

Maryland Gazette - 11/18/2017

While the news is not surprising, the numbers are still alarming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30.3 million people in the United States are living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and of that number approximately 208,000 people younger than 20 years are living with diagnosed diabetes.

Those numbers have nearly quadrupled in the last 30 years.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2015. More than a third of adults have prediabetes, and many do not even know that they have it.

So why is the number of diabetes cases on the rise? First, we must understand what causes diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn't make enough- or any - insulin or doesn't use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn't reach your cells.

The two most common forms of the disease is type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If a person has type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.

With today's busy lifestyles, fewer people have time to prepare regular, well-balanced meals. Today quick, high-calorie, sugary foods are widely available and many people, particularly young adults, are not consuming foods rich in fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains that provide the necessary nutrition to help lead to a healthy lifestyle. Instead of eating an apple as a snack, many turn to candy bars or snack foods. With a lack of exercise, the results can lead to a diabetes diagnosis.

To help prevent diabetes, the following are recommended:

? Exercise regularly. Just walking 30 minutes a day, four or five days a week can make a big difference. Light, low-impact weight training also helps to burn calories and reduces fat.

? Practice proper nutrition. You are what you eat. More fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Less sugary, high-calorie, high-fat foods.

? Maintain normal weight. Know your proper weight range for your specific body type. A good way to know this is to have an annual physical with your health care provider.

? Check your numbers. Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels by having them regularly checked.

With preventive care and healthy lifestyle changes, you don't have to become a diabetes statistic at a young age.

Dr. Kathleen Prendergast is an endocrinologist at The University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology at Baltimore Washington Medical Center. To reach Dr. Prendergast, please call 410-787-4940.

Credit: Dr. Kathleen Prendergast

 
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