According to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention National Diabetes Statistics Report of 2014, there are approximately 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes. That comprises 9.3% of the general population, or 1 out of every 11 people. Of the nearly 30 million who have diabetes, it is estimated that 27.8% are not even aware they have the condition. Those who are classified as being pre-diabetic, without affecting positive diet and lifestyle changes, will most likely develop Type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
This underscores a need for renewed efforts to educate and counsel sick and well patients on properly preventing and managing the disease. The Community Preventive Services Task Force released an evidence-based outline of recommendations entitled, “Diabetes Prevention and Control: Combined Diet and Physical Activity Promotion Programs to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Among People at Increased Risk.”
Those who qualify as “increased risk” are noted to have elevated blood sugar, but remain below what is commonly seen in those already diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Other methods or tools designed to assess risk for developing this condition are also valid.
According to the Task Force’s findings and rationales, combining proper nutrition with regular exercise has been proven to lower blood glucose and reduce a number of risks for cardiovascular problems. These positive changes can be fostered using many different approaches, including one-on-one or group counselling, consulting with a professional nutritionist or trainor, and creating a personalized diet and exercise plan. For any given intervention, the Task Force recommends guidance from a trained counsellor for at least 3 months. Not only are these interventions more effective than medical treatments, they also cost much less.
While these recommendations are highly encouraged for both well and sick, and for prevention and control, patient compliance to a disciplined, non-pharmaceutical regimen will always be a challenge to illicit and maintain. This prompts diabetics to turn to medication. Earlier this year, researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center were the first to discover a new glucose regulator, which has the potential to be targeted by future Type 2 diabetes treatments.