Diabetes is Becoming a More Prevalent Issue, But is Still Not Receiving the Attention It Deserves

By Madeline Hope and Noah Johnson, Row 5

While the push for medical knowledge and disease awareness has ballooned in recent recent years, diabetes, known in the past as "grandma's disease" has fallen through the cracks and not gotten the attention that it deserves. Thirty years ago, in 1985, only three percent of adults were affected by this disease, and it seemed to be almost an afterthought in the medical world, with many more pressing diseases at hand. However, diabetes remains on the back burner to this day, despite the fact that it has grown exponentially over the last few decades.

Despite Its Growth, Diabetes Awareness is Still Extremely Low

According to a study done by Dean Schillinger, a physician and professor at the School of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco, that was chronicled in The Diamondback, "low-income families have a 30 to 40 percent chance of getting Type 2 diabetes... about 50 percent of Latinos born after 2000 could receive a diagnosis, and more than 50 percent of blacks born after 2000 are expected to have the disease." This statement reflects the idea that, while diabetes is becoming a progressively greater issue, it is still not getting the necessary attention for it to be properly addressed. Harriet Kitur, a community health graduate student, expresses this idea by stating "diabetes is an epidemic and deserves more attention than its getting."

Those studying the cause and affect of diabetes, like Schillinger, claim that the disease is a product of social and environmental factors, not unhealthy lifestyles and genetics. It is the goal of these individuals and the groups they represent to debunk false information that is believed by so many individuals, for they believe that it is essential for the public to have a strong understanding of diabetes if any headway is going to be made in working towards a cure. In short, it is important to connect diabetes to lack of access to healthy food, health care, education, and wealth if the public perception of the disease is to become more accurate in the future.

Programs Have Risen to Raise Awareness and Combat Diabetes

Dean Schillinger is not alone in advocating for a greater understanding of diabetes, as his believe that "diabetes is what tobacco was in the 20th century, it's a 21st century epidemic" is one that is shared by many others. For example, several programs have appeared in recent years that aim to increase accurate diabetes knowledge. The Bigger Picture is one of these groups, as they strive to inform about the prominence of Type 2 diabetes in young adults in poor areas, therefore addressing a demographic that does not get as much attention as they should.

Untitled.pngPerhaps the larger issue is that establishments like the American Diabetes Organization, which provides services for those affected by the disease. Young people in particular are certainly unaware of the aid that they could be receiving, only strengthening the case for an increased knowledge of diabetes and the services that can be utilized to combat it currently and in the future.

Another resource that is available to individuals effected by the disease, specifically those currently attending college, is the College Diabetes Network, a non-profit organization that was created in 2009 and has spread across 36 college campuses. In addition to creating a toolkit for students, they also made an app called Diabesties which allows students affected by the disease to connect with one another.


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