Diabetes Epidemic Focus of World Health Day 2016

World Health Day April 7, 2016, is a day designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to bring awareness to global health concerns. This year, the focus is on diabetes – diabetes awareness, prevention, detection and treatment.

The number associated with diabetes reveal why this metabolic disease is receiving such attention, not only in the number of people worldwide who have the disease, but in its rapid rise of incidence and prevalence over the last 30 years. What used to be a disease of the rich – much like gout – is now striking middle and low income countries and individuals in alarming proportions.

WHO Provides Worldwide Diabetes Statistics

The following data is from the WHO Fact Sheet on the global crisis of diabetes:

  • In 1980, 108 million people around the world had diabetes; in 2014, that number rose to 422 million.
  • The prevalence of this metabolic disease has risen from 4.7 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent in 2014 in adults 18-years-of-age and older.
  • By 2030, it is estimated that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in the world. It is currently the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2012 alone, 1.5 million deaths were caused by diabetes.
  • Many times, type 2 diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle changes that include obtaining and maintaining a weight within normal range for age and height, cessation of tobacco use, and increase and maintenance of regular physical activity.
  • The complications of diabetes include kidney failure, blindness, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.

Diabetes Statistics Paint a Bleak Picture, But the True Takeaway is Empowerment

If World Health Day 2016 and WHO’s focus on diabetes is to be of use to you as an individual, the message received from diabetes awareness should be on what you can do to prevent it, learn if you have it and/or learn how to manage it to avoid the disease’s complications. It’s important, too, to make diabetes awareness an ongoing priority for yourself, not just one day of the year.

Undiagnosed diabetes is untreated diabetes. The American Diabetes Association reported that in 2012, 8.1 million people in the United States had diabetes but didn’t know it. Left untreated, diabetes in the form of high blood glucose levels can affect your kidneys, eye sight, heart and more. Don’t risk becoming a statistic. Get your blood sugar tested so you have the information you need to take appropriate action.

Be aware, though, that a single blood sugar test that is within normal limits does not necessarily mean you don’t have diabetes. Even those with diabetes have blood sugar readings that are within normal limits at times. If you’re experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of diabetes — increased thirst, increased hunger, unexplained weight loss, irritability, fatigue, increased urination, blurred vision, frequent infections or sores that are slow to heal — contact your health care professional for an evaluation.

If your blood glucose level is above normal limits when tested, you’ll need to contact your health care professional for a further evaluation.

An earlier article in “The Daily Voice News,” “Know Your Risks of Diabetes Today and Everyday,” addresses the risk factors associated with the disease. Learn your risk factors, which ones you can manage and whether it’s time to consider consulting with a health care professional about your potential for having diabetes.

Where to Get Tested for Diabetes

Diabetes Blood Test

Contact your local health department or diabetes association to learn where you can get your blood tested for diabetes.


Many drug stores provide free blood sugar testing for individuals. Other stores and health clinics may do the same. A single blood sugar test is not enough to determine whether or not you have diabetes, but it is a good starting point.

Contact your local health department or diabetic association for local access to blood sugar screening tests. These are also good sources of information about diabetes and what resources are available in your area.

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