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Health officials fearful of diabetes health epidemic

Plagued by adverse health complications such as kidney disease, blindness and amputation; individuals who suffer from diabetes are often too ill and physically unable to work. As such, many qualify for social security disability benefits. The National Diabetes Education Program aims to help raise awareness of the various factors that contribute to individuals developing diabetes

The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in recent years, particularly among those under age 18, is troubling. Diets high in sugar and fat combined with decreased amounts of physical activity have resulted in many U.S. children and adults being obese. These individuals are far more likely to go on to develop a range of health problems, including Type 2 diabetes.

Categorized as a disease in which an individual's body fails to produce adequate amounts of insulin, those who suffer from Type 1 and 2 diabetes have high levels of sugar in their blood. Worldwide, an estimated 350 million people have diabetes. Many of these individuals live in the United States and reside in states like Pennsylvania.

An increasing number of those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are children. Developing the disease at such a young age increases the likelihood that an individual will develop complications from the disease including blindness, stroke and amputation of limbs.

In an effort to educate children and parents about the dangers of a high-fat diet and inactivity, first lady Michelle Obama started the "Let's Move!" initiative. Through this and other similar education and intervention programs, those within the health care community hope to decrease the number of children and young adults who develop Type 2 diabetes.

Source: The Philadelphia News, "Health Officials Raise Diabetes Awareness in November," Charlene Porter, Nov. 26, 2012

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