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Scary Data

Halloween can be a fun holiday with the costumes, parties and Trick or Treating. In my neighborhood it is a big event, with whole families participating, kids, parents, grandparents and even the dogs.  It is fun to see all the costumes, and neighbors before the cold weather sets in. Each year I am astounded by the amount of candy kids collect while Trick or Treating.

Some kids show up with pillow cases full. Halloween is truly a sugar addict’s holiday (or nightmare)!

This year, Dr. Pescatore was asked to participate in the Sugar Addiction Awareness Day, on October 30th, the day before Halloween. November also marks Diabetes Awareness Month.  I thought this would be the perfect time to Enlighten, or Frighten you with data from the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet. Although, the data is boring, look at the figures. Chances are you, or someone in your family will become a statistic.

National Diabetes Fact Sheet

  • Diabetes, formerly called Sugar Diabetes, is the #1 sugar metabolism disorder!
    • There are 2 types, Type I requires insulin, as the pancreas can no longer produce it.
    • Type II does not necessarily require insulin to regulate. A fasting blood sugar greater than 125 is considered Diabetes. Prediabetes is diagnosed with a fasting blood sugar of 100-125.  Metabolic Syndrome and Insulin Resistance are also considered of prediabetes..
  • The numbers are scary.
    • In the United States, there are 25.8 million adults and children with diabetes!!!!
    • 79 million have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, and another 7 million have diabetes, but have not been officially diagnosed.
    • In 2010, there were 1.9 million new cases of diabetes.
    • 10.9 million, or 26% of the population over 65, have diabetes!!
  • What's happening to our kids?
    • 215,000 children under the age of 20, or 1 in 400 children have Type I or insulin dependent diabetes.  Data for children under the age of 20 with Type II is not out.Type II was rarely diagnosed in this age group in the past.
    • Type I, previously called juvenile onset, is an auto-immune disorder, which destroys the pancreas ability to produce insulin. Although, there is a genetic predisposition for Type I, Type II has more of a genetic link. If you are diagnosed with Type II diabetes prior to the age of 50, your children have a 1 in 7 chance of developing the disease.  If diagnosed after the age of 50, it is 1 in 13. These figures do not include women who are diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, a condition that occurs during pregnancy. The significance of Gestational Diabetes is these women and their babies are at increased risk of developing diabetes later in life.
  • The costs
    • The cost of treatment in the United States, in 2007 was a staggering $218 billion!!!
    • Annual cost of treatment for individuals on insulin was approximately $9000. Cost for individuals on oral medications was $4-5000.00 less. These figures are from 2007!  Imagine the cost 4 years later. 
    • Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a number of devastating health consequences including: heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, neuropathies, amputations, and in men, impotence!

Genetics, poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise all contribute to the development of Diabetes. Recent studies done at the Center for Disease Control, have shown that simple lifestyle changes, including diet, exercising 30 minutes 5 times per week, and maintaining a normal weight can reverse prediabetes. Those same changes can reduce the amount of insulin and/or oral medication required for individuals with diabetes. Diabetes can be an annoying disease, if you consider taking care of yourself annoying, or it can be a devastating illness. It’s you choice. Take care of yourself, or suffer the consequences. 

What to do about Halloween?  Close the door, and not participate? Not an option in my neighborhood. My husband and I will be sitting out on the porch greeting all the Trick or Treaters.  However, this year we will be passing out party favors instead of candy.  Oddly enough, the cost is about the same, and certainly less tempting.

If you have children, bargain with them. Buy back their stash, and then make sure you get the candy out of the house. You do not want to be tempted. Although, it is a small effort, being mindful of how much sugar you serve for Halloween or any holiday. Imagine, if everyone does there part, there will be fewer new cases of diabetes diagnoses in 2012.

Karen departed us on November 29, 2013. Her loving memory, devotion to patient care and warm spirit will always be with us. Read more.