The national spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association is spending some time in Iowa meeting with nurses, physicians, and others. Dr. Ann Albright, who is director of the CDC’s division of diabetes translation, says the U.S. diabetes epidemic has been growing at 5% every year since the 1990’s. Type 2 diabetes make up most of the cases. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is preventable. Dr. Albright says people get diabetes from a combination of genetics and lifestyle.
"The analogy often used is your genetics loads the cannon and your lifestyle pulls the trigger," Albright says, "so it’s important for people to realize you need learn what you can and take it seriously." Currently, there are an estimated 21 million Americans living with diabetes. Albright says another 54 million people are labeled as having "pre-diabetes," and on the cusp of developing type 2 diabetes. The diabetes epidemic is growing along with obesity. Albright says more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, because they don’t eat right and exercise.
"This is a disease that should not be happening to our youth," Albright says, "and at the rate we’re going we’ll see more children developing type 2 if we don’t get a handle on this." Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness, amputations, kidney failure, and heart attacks in the U.S. Albright, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for 40 years, says a CDC study shows that by 2050, diabetes could affect the eyesight of nearly 18 million Americans.
"So, we’ve got a sense of what we could be in for," Albright says, "it should really give us the warning sign that we need to work on ways in which we prevent type 2 diabetes – which we can indeed do – and we need to do things that will help people who have diabetes today take good care of themselves so they don’t suffer those complications." Albright spoke to Radio Iowa Friday prior to a meeting with health professionals at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines. November is Diabetes Prevention Month.