Addressing Diabetes Burden: Prevention and Delaying the Onset of the Condition Likely to Reduce Costs of Diabetes Disease

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Addressing Diabetes Burden: Prevention and Delaying the Onset of the Condition Likely to Reduce Costs of Diabetes Disease


World Health Organization (WHO) define diabetes mellitus as a chronic, metabolic disorder that is characterized by elevated levels of sugar (glucose). With time, the heightened levels of blood glucose are associated with cardiovascular-related conditions, heart failure, eyesight problems, blood vessels thickening, kidney and nerves damage. Though there are two principal types of disease, diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2 where the latter is the most prevalent in the population; there is a third type, diabetes gastrointestinal which is associated with pregnant women. Worldwide, the prevalence of diabetes continues to rise with developing nations reporting an increasing diagnosis of the condition. It is estimated that the number of people who have diabetes stands at 422 million which is more than the population of the United States (WHO par, not specified). Statistics indicate that each year some 7 million people develop diabetes (Tabish p1) and about 1.6 million deaths are attributed to diabetes alone. An individual who develops type 2 diabetes is 2 to 4 times likely to develop cardiovascular diseases where 80% die from these opportunistic diseases. Cumulatively, people who develop diabetes are more likely to die prematurely and loss between 12 to 14 years of life compared to the population without the condition (Tabish p1). In terms of financial and economic costs, WHO estimates that 15 percent of annual budgets are spent on dealing with diabetes-related illnesses alone.

Given the high prevalence of diabetes and the financial and economic burden associated with the condition, thousands of tests have conducted to find a cure for the condition. Despite this, results from previous and current efforts have been dismal as current treatments available for the condition do not heal patients from this chronic metabolic condition. To reduce the burden of the disease, and reduce the number of people developing the condition; this paper argues that the world needs to include prevention programs as part of the initiatives to tackle and reduce the burden of diabetes (Kahn, & Mayer, p944). Prevention and delaying the onset of diabetes through use of several preventive mechanisms, including lifestyle and dietary modification programs, regular exercise and treating preconditions offers the best and the most efficient way of addressing the burden of diabetes

Types and Symptoms of Diabetes

Though there are three types of diabetes mellitus including Type 1 and Type 2, and Gastronomical diabetes which most affect pregnant women; diabetes mellitus type 2, (DM2) is the most prevalent of the three types, accounting for nearly 90% of all cases (Ofori, & Chioma, p159). While Type 1 is characterized by the inability of the body to produce insulin, a substance in the body that helps to control the level of blood sugar, Type 2 is associated with a combination of resistance of the body to the action of insulin and inadequate production of insulin. Effectively, Type 2 diabetes is the most potent one of the two types. The third type of the condition, gestational diabetes only affects pregnant women and is believed to arise from either increased level of blood sugar in the mother’s blood or inability of the mother produce adequate insulin to meet increased nutritional intake of sugar. The prevalence of gestational diabetes is believed to about 2 to 5 percent of all pregnant women, with family history and obesity being some of the high risk factors (CDC, P105). Gestational diabetes is believed to be a predisposing factor likely to result in a child developing Type 2 diabetes and a risk factor for the mother.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes “insulin dependent,” Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent and more severe as it combines the inability to produce adequate insulin and body cells resistance to or lack of sensitivity to insulin, a factor which makes more troublesome and difficult to treat. Some of the typical symptoms of diabetes included heightened blood pressure, weight gain, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue, and general body weakness. If no treatment is provided, a person who has diabetes is likely to develop cardiovascular conditions, heart disease, and stroke. While Type 1 diabetes tends to be more prevalent in young people, Type 2 diabetes is more common among people aged 40 to 59 years of age.

 Prevention and Treatment

While insulin injection is the primary form of treatment of diabetes, there has been no effective medicine that has been developed to cure the condition of those suffering from it. In this sense, those people who develop the disease are likely to die from it or a diabetes-related condition. Effectively, the diabetes community has three options of dealing with the disease which includes prevention, use of insulin enhancing drugs and use of better care of people with the condition to bring its effects into control. Because of the lack of effective cure to treat diabetes, the argument for prevention medication as a way of reducing the burden of the disease has been growing over the years. Concerning this, some of the preventive methods which have been researched and proven to have a level of success include the agitation for more exercise, change in lifestyle and diet, and last but perhaps, more importantly, treating of preconditions such as prediabetes and prehypertension.

Lifestyle and Dietary Modifications

Research shows the increasing cases of the prevalence of diabetes mellitus among developing nations is partly attributed to changes in lifestyles and diet of the people in this country’s (Kahn, & Mayer, p944). Sedentary lifestyles and food rich in fats, salts, and sugar are some of the factors that have been found to increase cases of diabetes in countries where the prevalence of the disease continue to rise. Eating of junk foods, or rather diet high in fat, sugar and salt content but with minimal nutritional value is believed to increase the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes. The fact that junk foods are rich in fats and sugar means that the excess amount consumed is stored in the body in the form of fat which leads gain of weight.

Research indicates that gaining weight or somewhat becoming obese increases the chances of an individual of developing Type 2 diabetes. Excess fat in the body affects the ability of the pancreas to generate an adequate amount of insulin. In some instances, the excess fat also interferes with the ability of body cells to absorb and make use of insulin to regulate the amount of blood sugar. Effectively, becoming obese increases the chances of individuals of developing diabetes. As part of the broader initiatives to control diabetes, focusing on the type of diet that we take has the potential of reducing the number of people developing the condition. Adopting a plant-based diet mainly, where the amount of vegetables and fruits in the diet forms a substantial amount of daily nutritional intake is essential. The quality of the food we take, including plant-based diet also needs to be monitored. For the cases of animal protein, there is a need to avoid highly fatty beef, mutton, and pork. Alternatively, fish can replace much of the red meats in the diet.

Regular Exercise

Regular body exercise, including cardiovascular aerobics, hitting the gym, participating in physically demanding activities such as trimming of ages are some of the potential activities likely help to reduce or derail onset of diabetes. Thirty minutes of moderate to intense exercise activity has the potential of reducing excess weight and fat content in the body which is a considerable diabetes type 2 condition. Research shows that lifestyle medication with regular moderate exercise regime has the potential of reducing the occurrence of diabetes by more than 50% among people diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance (Tabish, p3). Combined with the use of metformin, regular exercise has the potential of preventing an individual from ever developing diabetes. People at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes significantly reduce the risk of developing the condition by losing 5 to 7 pounds of their body weight.

Treating Preconditions

For years, preventive medicine has been used to deal with chronic and infectious disease. Though there are no effective vaccines for dealing with diabetes, preventive care for people with prediabetes and prehypertension can be used to reduce the number of people developing diabetes. From research, we know that genetic predisposition and family history are some of the risk factors that increase the chances of individual developing diabetes. With millions of people with prediabetes, for instance, pre-treatment can be used to prevent the onset of diabetes or at least delay the time a person is likely to develop the condition (Kahn, & Mayer, p944).

In prediabetes, people diagnosed with higher blood glucose than normal are 10% likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those without it (Brown, & Ojo, par 4). If treatment is commenced and a person encouraged to change their lifestyle, and exercise regularly, they are more likely to prevent the condition from developing or at least delaying its onset. In initiating pre-condition treatment, however, it is critical to deal with an increase in medical costs as demand for drugs and healthcare services rise (Brown, & Ojo, par 6).


Use of prevention to reduce the burden and prevalence of diabetes in the population offers the best opportunity for the world to tackle the increasing cost of diabetes. Lifestyle change and dietary modification over the years is a critical factor that has led to an increased number of people becoming diabetic. With 7 million people developing diabetes each year and with developing nations including China and India being more at risk, there is urgent need to focus on changing lifestyle and dietary habits associated with heightened cases of diabetes. Regular exercise where individuals exercise for at least 3-5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes offers the world an opportunity not only to fight diabetes but also deal with cases of obesity and conditions such as stroke and heart disease. As part of the prevention argument, treating preconditions associated with diabetes including prediabetes and prehypertension offers hope to reduce the number of people developing diabetes.


Works Cited

Brown, J., & Ojo, O. Preventative medicine: the argument for and against. The Conversation.

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CDC. “National diabetes statistics report, 2017.” (2017): S103-S123.


Kahn, R., & Mayer B. D. “The reality of type 2 diabetes prevention.” Diabetes

Care 37.4 (2014): 943-949

Ofori, Sandra N., and Chioma N. Unachukwu. “Holistic approach to prevention and management

of type 2 diabetes mellitus in a family setting.” Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity: targets and therapy 7 (2014): 159.

Tabish, Syed Amin. “Is diabetes becoming the biggest epidemic of the twenty-first century?.”

International Journal of health sciences 1.2 (2007): V.

WHO. Diabetes: Global report on diabetes. (2018). Retrieved from