(This article was written for a Tulsa World editorial by my amazing Mom, Kim Koleber )
Every day in the United States, more than 4,000 men, women and children hear these words from their doctor: “I’m sorry, you have diabetes.”
And their lives change forever.
The 20th annual American Diabetes Alert Day is Tuesday, March 25, 2008. Alert Day is a one-day, “wake-up” call to inform the American public about the seriousness of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association encourages people to take the Diabetes Risk Test and find out if they are at risk for developing diabetes. Sounding the Alert, is critical as sixty million Americans are unaware they have diabetes or are at risk for developing the disease.
The disease is increasing in the worldwide at an alarming rate. Diabetes, caused by the body’s inability to produce or utilize insulin effectively to prevent a buildup of sugar in the blood, now affects 21 million Americans and roughly 250 million worldwide. It is projected by 2025; these numbers will more than double with 50 million Americans having diabetes. It is the fastest-growing disease in America –faster than heart disease, cancer or HIV/AIDS.
The soaring rate of people with diabetes threatens to overwhelm health systems and undermine economies. This challenge had mobilized world health leaders, who marked November 14, 2007, “World Diabetes Day”. For the first time, the United Nations passed a resolution for member states to develop national policies to prevent and treat diabetes.
The International Diabetes Federation, which tracks global diabetes, says the disease will cause 3.8 million deaths world wide this year, nearly equal to HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.
The diabetes epidemic has no bounds – even here in Tulsa. Children, co-workers, caregivers, minorities, and the elderly are some of the many faces of diabetes in our community. Could you be one of these faces?
For many, diagnosis may come seven to ten years after the onset of the disease. Therefore, early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.
What can the people of Tulsa, Oklahoma do to help stop it in its tracks?
I encourage you to take the Diabetes Risk Test and then get involved with the American Diabetes Association. Participate in an event or educational program. Volunteer. Be a Diabetes Advocate and write our state and federal government representatives urging them to support diabetes-related legislation.
Oklahomans cannot afford to wait – especially since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 1 in 2 Oklahoma children will develop Diabetes in their lifetime.
The future of our community is at risk. What are you going to do to help the many faces of diabetes?
For more information, call 1-888-DIABETES or visit www.diabetes.org/advocacy
American Diabetes Association
National Advocacy Committee