A significant portion of America’s more than 20 million persons with diabetes and the more than 50 million who have prediabetes, a condition that frequently leads to diabetes, may benefit from the provisions of the new Health Care Reform Bill now passed into law.
The Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sibelius, in making reference to people with diabetes, recently told reporters, that many millions of people with pre-existing health conditions, including diabetes, will obtain support from the program.
Probably few people realize the extent of diabetes in America today and the grim prospects for its continued growth in the next 20 years unless things change. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that at the current rate of diagnosis the number of persons with diabetes will grow to over 30 million by the year 2030. Equally disheartening is the forecast that one in every baby now being born will eventually become diabetic. Hard to believe but if true it is a very sad story indeed.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a serious and incurable disease in which a person’s blood sugar levels are elevated above the normal levels found in healthy people. In the right amount, the sugar in the blood, namely glucose, is an important constituent that is carried throughout the body in the circulating bloodstream and delivered to the millions of organ and tissue cells that need it for use in the production of the energy required to power the processes that sustain life.
The glucose is derived from the food we eat and the process of its absorption by the cells is aided by and dependent upon a hormone called insulin. Insulin is made in the body by an organ called the pancreas. The pancreas, in part, is an endocrine gland that produces the insulin in response to glucose entering the bloodstream from the food consumed.
In the case of diabetes, this system is impaired to the extent that the glucose does not efficiently enter the cells thus creating the higher blood sugar levels that define diabetes. Sometimes the cells become resistant to insulin, sometimes the pancreas fails to produce sufficient insulin and sometimes both of those conditions exist at the same time, in any event, too much sugar remains in the bloodstream creating a situation that, over an extended span of time, can lead to serious health complications.
Diabetes is growing at an accelerated rate in recent decades and it is no coincidence that simultaneously there is also an increasing incidence of obesity in the general population.
Scientific research has proved that there is a link between the two conditions in the case of the most common form of the disease, called Type-2 diabetes.
Fat cells play an active role in desensitizing liver cells and muscle cells, impairing the ability of the cells to absorb glucose. And the glucose overload and the excessive fat content of the foods consumed in the dietary routine of the obese person are the main cause of the obesity and the consequent diabetes.
What should be done?
The solution seems obvious, and is well publicized by every form of media news and advertising. And that is to change to a healthy and nutritious dietary routine with an increase in physical activity so that the those two are in balance, the food should provide only sufficient calories to meet the needs of the daily expenditure of calories in performing the physical activities necessary for work and recreation each day.
And to lose weight, or gain weight, adjust the balance accordingly until the desired weight is reached and then stay in balance, calories taken in should equal calories used up. The more food eaten requires that more energy must be expended to use up the extra calories taken in. The loss of weight really means the loss of fat, and that should not be done too quickly but at a steady rate with the reduction in a given number of calories each week or so. In this way the fat is less likely to be regained.
CAUTION: Serious weight loss should be under the care and guidance of a physician and medical team of course.
Health Care Costs
When health care costs are considered, the question to be asked is whether obesity can be considered as a health care condition that “qualifies” for coverage under the new program of the health care reform bill.
It is Important because obesity so often precedes both prediabetes and diabetes.
If the incidence of obesity could be reduced then it can be reasonably assumed that the number of diabetes cases will be reduced, providinga significant savings in health care.
Is it not time to increase the current efforts of the country’s health care authorities so that more emphasis and attention is focused on lowering both obesity and diabetes?