Too often, writers and magazines talk about diabetes in the abstract, referring to stats and figures while ignoring the human element. A recent article in the Daily Beast, however, avoids that. It provides a powerful and alarming profile on the human “face” of diabetes.
In this case, it’s a diabetic family in Camden, NJ, led by Alicia Rivera, a mother of three. The article delves into Alicia’s past, and in doing so, underscores the roots of America’s diabetes epidemic.
Alicia came to New Jersey in 1972. At the time, she was surrounded by fresh fruits and vegetables, yet also ate traditionally carbohydrate-rich foods for dinner. Nonetheless, she remained thin, until the early 1980s when Camden saw the emergence of more fast food restaurants. During that time, she also had children, which made it more difficult to exercise and eat properly.
Now she spends her days worried about managing diabetes, equipped with an EpiPen – a syringe full of adrenaline that’s always at the ready in the event of an insulin coma.
Ultimately, Alicia’s story has been replicated by millions of diabetics across the country and shows how a poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to diabetes.
It is a certifiable medical fact that type 2 Diabetes can be avoided or at least delayed through diet, exercise, proper medical treatment. Yet the United States is nonetheless facing a diabetes epidemic of staggering proportions; 26 million Americans have the disease, and that number has doubled since 1980.
And therein lies the profound challenge facing the medical and diabetic community: how, despite all the education and diabetes management strategies available, is the condition only worsening.
Industry experts have some theories as to why this is. Some argue that despite breakthroughs in diabetes management care, these strategies have not been practically translated into everyday activities that patients can partake in.
Then there’s the theory that the level of diabetes education is not, after all, as pervasive and useful as previously thought. Advocates need to do a better job at promoting the importance of diet and education, and that starts at the grade school level.