World Diabetes Day unites the world against diabetes by celebrating people who are touched by diabetes every day and raising public awareness of this killer epidemic. The International Diabetes Federation leads this campaign inspiring organizations and people to come together to put the spotlight on diabetes and honoring those who work to make a life with diabetes like any other life, and those who strive to make diabetes a thing of the past – like insulin pioneer, Frederick Banting, whose birthday provides the date – 14 November.
This year’s special focus is on children and young people with the hope that the importance of early awareness of the risks and dangers of diabetes will become better understood. The aim is to build awareness among children and young people of the warning signs and risk factors for diabetes and that in many cases type 2 diabetes can be prevented through healthy eating and physical activity. The campaign aims to educate, engage, and empower youth and the general public on diabetes.
The three key messages of the campaign are:
§ Access to essential education for everyone
§ The way we live is putting our health at risk
§ People with diabetes face stigma and discrimination
Type 2 diabetes which is linked to being overweight and inactive is increasing not only among adults but also in children. Typically, type 2 was a disease that used to affect only older adults. Now, type 2 diabetes in children is becoming as common as type 1 diabetes in parts of our country and throughout the world. Since a person, even a child, can live with type 2 diabetes for 7 to10 years without knowing it, there is uncertainty of how many children actually have type 2 diabetes.
The Upper Peninsula and its children are not immune from the development and complications of diabetes. In the U.P., an estimated 200 youth under the age of 18 have type 1 diabetes. Another 200 youth may be living with type 2 diabetes. Current studies also indicate that 1 out of 3 children born in the U.S. in the year 2000 will develop diabetes at some point during their lifetime. Unfortunately, Native American children have the highest rate of type 2 diabetes in youth.
The time to take action is now. Make healthy choices each day by becoming more physically active, decreasing portion sizes, reducing intake of sugar and fat, and by adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta to your diet. If you are unsure of your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the U.P. Diabetes Outreach Network encourages you to see your healthcare provider or call your local diabetes educator to find out more. Taking small steps today to improve your health can lead to many healthy tomorrows.