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Diabetes costs the nation a whopping $174 billion dollars annually and is the seventh most frequently listed cause of deaths in the United States.
It is estimated that 25.8 million people — or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population — has diabetes. Diagnoses increased from 1.5 million in 1958 to 18.8 million in 2010, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 68,000 Alaskans have diabetes. Its prevalence in Alaska has doubled in the past 20 years.
The CDC says diabetes is caused by defects in insulin production and action. It is marked by high levels of blood glucose.
The CDC emphasizes that the disease is controllable.
The disease is not gender specific, being almost evenly divided between men and women. But it is highly more likely, more than twice as frequent, among people under age 65 than among retirement-age folks.
Type 1 diabetes results in a lifetime of treatment, often involving taking insulin, exercising to maintain a healthy weight, a diet of healthy foods and monitoring of blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is treated much the same way, although medication might not be necessary in all cases.
November is National Diabetes Month. Most people who visit their doctor's office for an annual checkup probably know where they stand in regard to diabetes. Others might have received tests at the recent health fair that will direct them toward treatment or a clean bill of health.
But all will notice included in the treatment for diabetes that the theme for optimum health — once again — is a healthy diet and exercise. Diet and exercise can heal a nation of its ills.