By Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for World Diabetes Day
Diabetes does not strike a person alone. It strikes families and communities. It strikes our nation and the world. During World Diabetes Day and National Diabetes Month this November, we at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, renew our efforts to prevent, manage and one day cure diabetes. As well, we encourage families to take steps to improve their health and work together to fight diabetes and its serious and sometimes fatal consequences.
Diabetes affects nearly 26 million Americans, and an estimated 79 million people are at risk for developing the disease. Worldwide, diabetes is on the rise, especially in Asia and the Middle East. For people living with diabetes or at risk for type 2 diabetes, family support is critical to staying healthy. NIDDK has taken important steps to curtail this epidemic, from funding research on diabetes and its complications to providing help through education.
Diabetes is a complex group of diseases with a variety of causes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin. People with type 1 need to take daily insulin to live. Thanks to NIH-funded research, we now know that good early management of the disease through insulin, diet and exercise can prevent serious complications even decades later.
Type 2 diabetes is more pervasive and often preventable, yet more and more people are at risk for type 2 diabetes due to the obesity epidemic and the aging of the U.S. population. Although still rare, young people are increasingly developing type 2 diabetes, and we have learned that the disease is even more difficult to treat in youth than adults. A third type, gestational diabetes, occurs in some women during pregnancy. It usually goes away after birth, but these women and their children have a greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes later in life.
The National Diabetes Education Program, a joint effort of the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the NIDDK’s National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provide research-based health information, resources and support for people and their families and communities to make positive changes together to improve diabetes outcomes.
But we are also each other’s best resource. Preventing type 2 diabetes and managing diabetes involves the entire family. Cook a balanced meal. Share a brisk walk. Talk with your family about your health and your family’s diabetes risk. Schools, work sites and places of worship can also be part of the diabetes prevention and management solution. What we can do alone to fight diabetes and its consequences, we can do so much more effectively together.
At NIDDK, we are committed to improving diabetes treatment and advancing public health through diabetes research and education. We aim for a diabetes-free future: for ourselves, our family, our community, our nation and our world.
The NIDDK, a component of the NIH, conducts and supports research on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. Spanning the full spectrum of medicine and afflicting people of all ages and ethnic groups, these diseases encompass some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. For more information about the NIDDK and its programs, see https://www.niddk.nih.gov
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.