Resources to Combat Rising Diabetes Rates
COVID-19 has taken up most of the health headlines this past year, but the United States is still struggling to deal with a rising diabetes crisis.
Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body uses blood sugar (glucose), which is vital to health because it is an important source of energy for the body’s cells. When blood sugar level is elevated to a certain level, one is diagnosed with diabetes. Like any disease, environmental factors—or community conditions—can create risk factors for the disease.
Diabetes is considered one of the leading causes of the rising burden of disease rates and is one of the top 10 causes of death globally. While some areas of the world are seeing decreases in diabetes rates, the United States is experiencing a strong rise with no sign of letting up. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 34.2 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and nearly 20 percent of those people don’t know they have it. Additionally, 88 million adults have what is called prediabetes, which means a higher-than-normal blood sugar level that could lead to type 2 diabetes without lifestyle changes.
The Burden of Disease is a concept developed in the 1990s by the Harvard School of Public Health, the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) to describe death and loss of health due to diseases, injuries, and risk factors.
According to the WHO, the burden of a particular disease or condition is estimated by adding together:
- The number of years of life a person loses as a consequence of dying early because of the disease (Life Years Lost)
- The number of years of life a person lives with disability caused by the disease (Disability Adjusted Life Year)
Adding together the Years of Life Lost and Years of Life lived with Disability gives an estimate of disease burden, called the Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY). One DALY represents the loss of one year of life lived in full health.
There have been many scientific advances in diabetes management, both in terms of medication and diabetes management programs. Yet, prevention of diabetes remains the ideal solution to decreasing diabetes rates, reducing disability from diabetes, and lowering the burden of disease.
Guided by Well-Being and Equity in the World and the Well-Being in the Nation Network, challenge participants used tools developed by 100 Million Healthier Lives to accelerate a pathway to improve an equitable, rapid and sustainable response for people experiencing disparities in diabetic outcomes in the context of COVID-19.