There are nearly 24-million children and adults afflicted with the disease in the United States and an additional 57-million at risk for type-2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. Dr. Richard Bergenstal is president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association. He says diabetes has reached epidemic proportions.
"One in every ten Americans currently has diabetes. And in the next couple of decades, it's gonna be one in three if we don't do something."
He's especially concerned about the fact that more and more children are becoming candidates.
"Kids these days are heavier and they are less active, whether that's they don't get recess at school, or there's coke machines in the schools. I think you put those things together, less activity, increasing weight, and that's a high risk for developing diabetes. What we used to call adult-onset, now kids are getting it."
Of course, factors are in play, when it comes to children becoming diabetics. Dr Bergenstal says genetic predisposition could be one.
"It's not a guarantee. It just says you know, you have a higher risk by having this in the family. Or, even a variety of ethnic minority groups: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans are higher risk. And so, if you take a risk, and you gain weight, and you're inactive, then it shows up."
The holidays can be a challenging time for those trying to achieve a healthy weight and blood sugar. Dr Bergenstal says if you're entertaining, be aware that there will be one in three people who either has diabetes or is at risk for
"Have some choices. Have some options for people. Have some nonalcoholic beverages or some calorie free beverages. Have some fruits, nuts, vegetables, you know mixed in with your favorite sweets and treats that you're making. You know, invite some people to go for a walk with you."
Bergenstal says don't eliminate sweets during the holidays, but work them into the meal plan. Cut down on potatoes or skip a piece of bread, as carbohydrates can really affect blood-sugar levels when digested. Bergenstal adds, don't deprive yourself. Enjoy the foods that are eaten in moderation. More information can be found at www.stopdiabetes.com, www.dLife.com, and www.diabetes.org.