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Diabetes' Toll Continues to Grow
Date:3/21/2008

But it's not too late to protect yourself and your family, experts say

FRIDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- News from the diabetes front seems to grow more discouraging by the day.

Rates of the disease, fueled by obesity and sedentary lifestyles, have risen unchecked in the United States, with diabetes now affecting about 7 percent of the population. That's an estimated 20.8 million adults and children, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Federal projections estimate that by 2050, some 48 million Americans will have type 2 diabetes. And the disease will bring with it complications such as blindness, hearing loss, kidney disease, nervous system disorders and amputations of extremities.

"Studies have suggested that for the first time in history, the generation of people born in 2000 is probably going to have shorter life expectancy than their parents," said Dr. Sue Kirkman, vice president of clinical affairs for the American Diabetes Association. "That's attributable to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Is that what we want for our children?"

What's worse, one of the most promising medicines for treating type 2 diabetes -- Avandia -- now appears to increase a person's risk of heart attack and heart failure, according to recent studies.

Still, medical experts say the fight against diabetes can be won -- if everyone decides to do what's best for themselves and their families.

That fight will get its yearly boost on Tuesday when the American Diabetes Association will "sound the alert" about diabetes on the 20th annual American Diabetes Alert Day. It's a one-day "call to action" to encourage those at risk for developing type 2 diabetes or those with loved ones at risk to take the Diabetes Risk Test and, if they score high, to schedule an appointment to see their health-care provider. The Diabetes Risk Test is available in English and Spanish by calling the association at 1
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