- TYPE II DIABETES: CONFRONTING THE RISING MENACE
- AN URGENT NEED FOR EARLIER, MORE EFFECTIVE INTERVENTION
From The Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory Newsletter, 9/1/99.
Blood sugar concentrations soar out of control. Fats are mobilized from storage areas to form the malevolent sludge that clogs and chokes arteries. The body's tissue supply of protein becomes depleted, causing loss of energy and muscle wasting.
It's not pretty. Eventually, the effects of progressive adult-onset type-II diabetes set the stage for impotence, heart disease, chronic fatigue, depression, blindness and a host of other debilitating health problems. The trick to beating this scourge is to identify and treat its early warning signals as soon as possible. At present, we seem to be losing the battle.
Results from the San Antonio Heart Study report that the incidence of type II diabetes in the U.S. is threatening to spiral out of control.In just a recent 7-8 year period, researchers discovered a tripling incidence of type II diabetes in the two largest ethnic groups in the U.S.: Hispanics (specifically Mexican-Americans) and non-Hispanic whites.
What's more, the rate is also skyrocketing among other groups. Long-term studies on Arizona Pima Indians have revealed a 50% increase in type II diabetes in recent decades. And a study from the Midwest reported an alarming trend in younger age groups: A greater than 10-fold increase in the incidence of adolescent type II diabetes mellitus in only a two-year period.
To identify important early warning indicators for type II diabetes, researchers in the San Antonio study evaluated various baseline parameters of metabolic health in Mexican-Americans and non-Hispanic whites. Body mass index, along with elevated fasting and 2-hour glucose levels turned out to be the most significant independent predictors for subsequent development of diabetes. Significantly, body mass alone was not adequate for signaling this increased likelihood.
Researchers emphasized the huge strain that the rapidly rising incidence of type II diabetes is likely to exert on U.S. healthcare expenditures, unless more effective early identification and preventative measures are taken. "A rising trend in the incidence of diabetes will have a significant impact on public health. The mortality, morbidity, and economic costs of diabetes are all exceptionally high."
One important key to more effective intervention may be reaching more patients across all socioeconomic levels. This study revealed that low-income individuals in both ethnic groups have roughly double the risk of developing type II diabetes compared to those in the highest income brackets.