The World Health Organization reports that approximately 150 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the number is projected to double by the year 2025. Traditionally considered a disease of middle-aged and older adults, type 2 diabetes and the related metabolic syndrome are occurring at alarming rates in younger people. If untreated or poorly treated, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, stroke, nerve damage and circulation problems that can result in limb amputations.
"When type 2 diabetes strikes an older adult, it is serious, but it still may take 10-20 years before the individual will develop the major long-term complications like heart disease, stroke and blindness. But now that more people in their 30s, 20s and even teens are getting the disease, we will see these complications in younger and younger people," Kahn says. "I fear the ability of healthcare systems throughout the world to care for these people will be overwhelmed if we are not successful in curbing this rising tide of disease. Clearly we need to find ways to modify lifestyles, make earlier diagnosis and improve management of the disease."
Joslin Diabetes Center offers the public a free diabetes library on its Web site with important information in the fight against diabetes. It includes information on how to prevent type 2 diabetes in children and adults, how someone diagnosed with pre-diabetes can prevent full-blown diabetes, and how to defend against complications if diagnosed with diabetes.
For medical professionals working to stem the tide of the epidemic, Joslin posts its proven disease management guidelines on www.joslin.org and offers continuing medical education courses across the U.S. For more information about Joslin's programs and to request an information packet on diabetes call toll-free 1-800-JOSLIN-1.