Diabetes Is a Deadly Epidemic in the U.S. and Around the World
Every six seconds, another person dies of diabetes.
More than 29 million Americans now have diabetes— roughly 9% of the U.S. population. The number of cases in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the last decade and is rapidly on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that by 2050, as many as one in three Americans will have diabetes.
Yet, Most People Don’t Understand Much About Diabetes, Including Whether They Have It
Most people think diabetes is one disease, and they are wrong. Diabetes is a group of diseases that impact how the body creates or responds to insulin, a hormone critical to every system in the body. This group of diseases are the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and are connected to heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, blindness, kidney failure and amputations. Diabetes costs this country an estimated $245 billion a year.
Yet, of the more than 29 million Americans who have one of these diseases, an estimated eight million have no idea they have it.
Issues Surrounding Diabetes are Complex
Many people assume that the rapid increase in diabetes is solely the result of America’s rise in obesity. However, obesity is only one of multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes, many of which remain mysterious. Obesity is not considered to have an impact on type 1 diabetes, which is also dramatically on the rise.
This epidemic is not simply a medical issue. It’s hard to talk about diabetes without getting into some uncomfortable of the tensions surrounding issues of race, class, money, personal freedom vs. social responsibility, the role of government, the food industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and who (if anyone) is to blame.
For example, one of the most troubling aspects of diabetes is its disproportionate impact on ethnic and racial minority groups. People of color are nearly twice as likely as white people (whites) to develop diabetes and to die from it.
Native Americans, in particular, have gone from having almost no incidence of diabetes to suffering the highest rates in the world. Native Americans with diabetes are 60% more likely to die from it than whites. Many families on reservations receive their food directly from the U.S. government, which has led one of our film subjects to compare the sugar-rich rations from the USDA as the 21st century equivalent of smallpox blankets.
Income inequality also is a major risk factor for diabetes. Living in poverty can double or triple diabetes risk, and low-income patients suffer the highest risk of the most severe complications.
Our Film Delves into These Issues Via the Real Stories of People Directly Affected by Them
Despite the heavy toll in money, health, and lives, there is a surprising lack of public urgency in addressing diabetes, particularly given the speed with which it is spreading. A film telling powerful, personal stories will raise consciousness of the complexities of this crisis (tensions and all) and start the conversations necessary to address it.
With nearly two million new diabetes cases in the U.S. each year, there’s no time to lose.