OCT 18, 2022 9:00 AM PDT

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Requires Community Change

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A recent report to Congress addressed the growing problem of type 2 diabetes and reframed the issue as partially due to social and environmental factors.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body does not properly use and regulate sugar as fuel. This dysregulation leads to high blood sugar, which can damage the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems over time. Type 2 diabetes is caused by two factors: cells in the muscles, liver, and fat becoming resistant to insulin, the hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in your blood through the movement of sugar into cells; and the pancreas, which produces insulin, becoming unable to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar. While the exact cause of these issues is not unknown, they have been clearly linked to a lack of physical activity, consumption of certain foods, and obesity.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has been rapidly growing in the U.S. among both older and younger people. While diabetes has generally been regarded as a problem requiring medical treatment, the new report highlighted social and economic changes that could slow its rise. The report proposed several changes to slow the spread of diabetes, including subsidies for farmers to grow healthier foods (fruits, vegetables, and nuts) and thus lower their cost, better guidance from the government on the clear link between sugary beverages and type 2 diabetes, and improved nutrition labels that more clearly communicate the amount of added sugar in foods. The report also suggested that federal agencies spend more money on improving walkability, green spaces, physical activity resources, and active transport opportunities (like walking or biking) in communities.

Type 2 diabetes is linked to heart disease risk, with type 2 diabetes patients having a considerably higher risk of developing and/or dying from heart disease than patients without type 2 diabetes. This connection is likely due in large part to the increased prevalence of risk factors like high blood pressure and obesity in patients with type 2 diabetes. By improving social and economic factors leading to type 2 diabetes, rates of heart disease and obesity in the U.S. may also improve.

Sources: Health.gov , Mayo Clinic, NYT, World J Diabetes

About the Author
PhD in Biophysics
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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