THE U.S. National Diabetes Fact Sheet released on Jan. 26, 2011 showed there are 25.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 8.3 percent of the population, have diabetes.

There are 18.8 million who are diagnosed and about 7 million undiagnosed.

Seventy-nine million are pre-diabetics.

All these figures may even be conservative.

In 2010 alone, 1.9 million new cases were diagnosed among children 20 years and older.

About one in every 400 children and adolescents has diabetes.
In the Philippines, the incidence is rising.

We have one of the highest, if not the top, in Asia, most blaming it on our culture of eating a lot of white rice and bread, carbohydrates in general, including soft drinks.

In 2008, one out of every five (20 percent) Filipinos had diabetes.

Ten years before this, it was only 3.9 percent, a jump of over 5 times.

Extrapolated, the actual incidence today might be around 20 million, and diabetes is among the top causes of mortality, with more than 20,000 deaths annually.

Worldwide, the incidence in 30 years jumped from 30 million to the estimate of 366 million in 2011, and this is expected to catapult to 552 million in 2030, 17 years from now.

Data from the International Diabetic Foundation: China, 90 million, Europe, 50 million, Japan, 11 million.

It is indeed most concerning and frustrating, since diabetes is, to a great extent, preventable, as we pointed out and discussed in great details in the coffee-table book at (Philippines: All Central Book Supply and National Book Stores; Online:,, and, with eBook versions).

Here are some of the questions e-mailed to me by our readers:

Am I at risk of diabetes?

The major risk factors for type 2 diabetes are: age (the older, the more prone to diabetes, but young children could have it too), family history of diabetes, excess weight or obesity, sedentary life-style, those who consume red meats and a lot of carbohydrates (rice, bread, sweets), those with hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistant cells, disease of the pancreas, infection or illness, polycystic ovary syndrome, history of gestational diabetes.

Should everyone get a blood glucose test?

Since diabetes could be a treacherous disease, causing complications that ravage the body when discovered late, it is a good idea to have a baseline blood glucose level tested, even without symptoms, after age 20, and earlier for those with a family history of diabetes.

Detecting the disease early and treating it promptly will prevent complications and allow one to live practically normally.

Would simple urinalysis do the same job?

While urinalysis could detect glucose level, a blood test for sugar is the more sensitive and more accurate way to detect abnormal level, especially for a baseline level for future reference among those non-diabetics.

How else could blood sugar level be monitored?

The use of the home glucometer as we alluded to is one way.

The less convenient and more expensive way is to go to a clinic for actual blood test, especially for those who need daily glucose monitoring.

All the information from this will help in the day to day decisions for care.

The other way is to get a Hemoglobin A1C level at least every six months, which data will reveal the average daily blood sugar the past two to three months, like a panoramic picture of the blood sugar level of the past 60 to 90 days.

This will show how effective the management is, or how brittle (uncontrolled) or severe the diabetes is, while being treated.

This will enable the physician to modify his treatment plan.

A1C level of 6 percent means the average blood sugar the past two to three months was about 126 mg/dl, 6.5 percent indicates an average of 140 mg/dl, etc....

What makes blood sugar level go up or down?

Our blood sugar level rises when we eat more than what we need, inactivity, insufficient medication, side effects of other drugs, hormonal changes (menstrual cycle), infection or illness, and stress.

Glucose level falls when we miss a meal or eat less carbohydrates, drink alcoholic beverage, especially on an empty stomach, extra physical activity too much diabetic medications, side effects of other medications.

Of course, make sure that the glucometer strips being used are not expired, the Code is correct, and test solutions are showing accurate reading standard.

What are the target levels?

The targets recommended by the American Diabetic Association are: 70 to 130 mg/dl, for test done immediately after waking up, before a meal.

This is the Fasting Blood Glucose level.

For the two-hour Post-prandial level, which is very accurate, the target level is 180 mg/dl or lower.

Is type 2 diabetes preventable?

Yes, this type of diabetes and all the miseries it brings are preventable through early healthy lifestyle — abstinence from tobacco, disciplined use of alcohol, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet of fish, vegetables, nuts and grains and minimal red meat, daily physical exercise, relaxation and stress management.

There are a significant number of diabetics who were able to stop taking their medications for diabetes by simply modifying their diet and doing daily exercises.

And the same for people with high blood pressure, who were able to discard their pills and control their pressure by diet and exercise.


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