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America Losing the Fight With Type 2 Diabetes
Date:12/30/2008

Yet simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference

TUESDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- The type 2 diabetes epidemic that continues to sweep across the United States has left an estimated 24 million Americans struggling with the disease, up more than 3 million people since 2005.

And, of course, with the epidemic comes the wave of illnesses and disabilities brought on by diabetes -- heart disease and stroke, blindness, amputations, kidney disease and nervous system damage.

Doctors are trying to reverse the tide in two ways.

First, they're continuing to press the public to adopt healthy lifestyle changes that can head off type 2 diabetes, or, at the very least, help control it if it's already present. And researchers are pushing to develop new drugs to help people manage their diabetes more effectively.

"You have to look at the management of diabetes as a package, really," said Ann Albright, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Diabetes Translation. "You really need to be taking advantage of all the tools in the toolbox."

Unfortunately, much of America continues to be slow in picking up those tools, particularly needed lifestyle changes, despite mounting evidence that they're very effective.

In type 2 diabetes, either the body doesn't produce enough of the hormone insulin or the cells "ignore" the insulin, which is needed for the body to use blood sugar, or glucose, for energy. Lack of exercise and being overweight are key contributors to type 2 diabetes.

Some type 2 diabetes medications have come under scrutiny recently after research found that a leading drug, Avandia, seemed to increase the risk of heart attack.

"That created a fair amount of uproar about drug safety in diabetes," said Dr. John Buse, director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and president of medicine a
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