Diabetes: A Social Epidemic

Diabetes: A Social Epidemic

We’re living in the midst of an epidemic, a modern plague that is slowly devastating an entire generation. The plague is spreading so rapidly that 4,303 people are diagnosed with it every day – 1.6 million people in a year. The problem? Diabetes.

Unlike most epidemics – think AIDS or the swine flu – diabetes is not spread by bacteria or a virus. In fact, there’s no contagion involved at all. What we have instead is a toxic social environment ripe for diabetes. A food industry that seduces consumers with processed foods high in calories and fat. A beverage industry that doles out sugar-laden soft drinks. Restaurants and fast-food eateries that supersize their offerings and douse them in salt. A couch potato culture that promotes screen time over physical activity. Taken together, it’s an ugly situation, one that promotes indulgence, overeating and a sedentary lifestyle, which adds up to a major health problem.

Everyone likes to say that diabetes is a genetic problem. Truth is, genes are only part of it – what you eat, how much you eat and whether you exercise plays a much bigger role. The reality is that people today are eating 340 more calories a day than they did in 1974. That’s almost an entire meal. And they’re not making up for it by getting more activity. In fact, they’re probably getting less.

The medical profession has done little to help. Rather than speak the truth and tell their patients to lose weight, eat better and exercise, they write a prescription and urge patients to monitor their blood sugars. After all insurance companies don’t reimburse doctors for giving sound advice – doctors are reimbursed for patient visits, tests and exams.

Diabetes is a social epidemic. We’ve all had a hand in creating it and helping it to spread. The question now is, what are we going to do to stop it?