The Cost Of Diabetes
It is estimated that a staggering 7.8% of the American population has diabetes, approximately 23 million people. Diabetes is recognised as a leading cause of death and disability (due to complications associated with the disease) in the USA. The disease costs an estimated $174 billion per year in the USA according to estimates from the National Institute of Health.
Diabetes is a disease of glucose management. When people consume food, the body breaks it down into simpler compounds which it needs to thrive through the process of digestion. One of these metabolic products is glucose, the simplest form of sugar, which is the energy source used to power the body. For glucose to be useful, it needs to pass from the digestive system into the bloodstream where it can be carried throughout the body. Once glucose is in the bloodstream, it can supply the body’s cells with the energy they need to function. However, for this to happen, the glucose must be able to pass from the bloodstream and into the cell. A molecule called insulin is required to regulate the transfer of glucose from the bloodstream and into cells. Insulin is a hormone which is produced by the pancreas. In healthy people, the body will produce enough insulin to allow the transfer of the glucose produced by eating, from the bloodstream and into the cells.
In people with diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin to regulate the amount of glucose within the bloodstream. The level of glucose in blood will rise, but the cells cannot access it. Eventually, some of the glucose will excreted into the urine via the kidneys.
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes (an auto-immune disease)
Type 2 diabetes (accounts for 90 to 95% of all diabetic patients)
Gestational diabetes (occurs in late pregnancy and usually stops after the child is born)