There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. With diabetes, a person 's blood sugar rises to dangerous levels and causes numerous health problems. Both types do not have a cure. Type 1 is caused by a gland in the pancreas that no longer makes insulin because the immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells. Sugar then builds up in the blood causing internal damage while the cells starve. In type 2 diabetes, the body can make insulin but the cells cannot properly use it. A child that is found to have type 2 diabetes at age 10 will see his or her life shortened by 19 years according to a government estimate.
As noted in a recent CDC report, 1 of every 3 babies born in the United States as of 2000, will be diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime, and a more shocking statistic, 1 of every 2 Hispanic babies will be diagnosed with diabetes in the course of their life.
All types of cancer cost the United States a combined $171 billion in healthcare costs. However, diabetes costs $132 billion. According to the Cato Research Institute, healthcare for a person with diabetes but without complications costs an estimated $1,600 a year in diabetes-related expenditures, but that cost can and will go up if any related ailments cause problems. Some examples of how that cost skyrockets are an estimated $30,400 for a heart attack or amputation, more than $40,000 for a stroke, and an estimated $37,000 for end stage kidney disease.
Congress has not seen the warning signs that diabetes has grown into epidemic proportions. There have been numerous ways that Congress could have been much more active by securing more funding for CDC research and fully funding diabetes education and prevention programs. Sadly, it did not seize the opportunity to do so.
People with diabetes need a strong education that is fully funded so they can properly handle their disease. Congress should also fully fund a prevention program that in the short term may cost some money, but, in the long run, will save this country millions if not billions of dollars in healthcare costs. I would strongly encourage Congress to listen and respond to the outcry of its constituents to find a cure for this horrific disease by dedicating more funding for research, education, and prevention.
Sean Hughes, is a Type 1 Diabetic and the founder of the Diabetic Food Critic, LLC. www.diabeticfoodcritic.com