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Watch for Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms as New Study Predicts "Startling Rise"

Learn what to know about type 2 diabetes and what the signs are. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Diabetes is a major public health issue that isn't talked about enough. While it's always been an alarming matter because the common condition affects millions of people, cases are steadily rising, causing more concern.. "Diabetes is becoming an increasingly serious health concern – the World Health Organization estimates that around 422 million people today have diabetes, a statistic that has almost quadrupled since 2014," Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies tells us. "There are several reasons why this figure is on the rise; for instance, improving diagnostic capabilities and our increasing awareness of this condition means it is being diagnosed more readily. Additionally, unhealthy lifestyle choices can undoubtedly contribute to diabetes."

"A new modeling study is raising alarm bells after it determined that the number of young people in the United States with diabetes will increase by nearly 700% over the next 40 years," adds Fox News. "The study, titled 'Projections of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Burden in the U.S. Population Aged <20 Years Through 2060: The SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study,' was published in the journal Diabetes Care on Dec. 29, 2022. The authors of the study predicted there might be 220,000 people under the age of 20 with Type 2 diabetes in the year 2060 — an increase of about 675% from the number of young people with type 2 diabetes in 2017." One expert bemoaned the "startling projections."

"This new research should serve as a wake-up call for all of us. It's vital that we focus our efforts to ensure all Americans, especially our young people, are the healthiest they can be," said CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry, MD, MPH, in a statement.

Diet plays a major role with diabetes and poor food choices increase the risk and complications for anyone with the disease. Dr. Mitchell says, "It's no exaggeration to say that most of our meals and snacks are carb-heavy and laden with sugar. Sugary treats, processed breakfasts, and takeaways at every turn surround us. Our dependency on sweet treats is so ubiquitous that it's easy to overlook how much we're consuming – but the reality is that we have a significant obsession with sugar. This culture has resulted in diabetes, creating an undeniable strain on the healthcare system. Individuals must recognize the dangers of this obsession and make lifestyle changes to counteract this epidemic." To find out more about type 2 diabetes read below and learn how to recognize the symptoms. As always, please consult your physician for medical advice. 


What to Know About Type 2 Diabetes

Doctor with glucometer and insulin pen device talking to male patient at medical office in hospital.

Dr. Mitchell explains, "Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic health condition when the body cannot process sugar properly in the bloodstream. While it can affect any age group, it is more common among adults who are overweight or obese and have an inactive lifestyle. People should know that diabetes increases their risk for severe long-term complications such as blindness, kidney, and circulatory system problems, stroke, and heart attack."

Treatment includes medication to control blood sugar levels and regular physical activity to limit weight gain or loss weight. Additionally, a nutritious diet rich in fiber and low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol can help manage diabetes by keeping blood glucose levels consistent. With early diagnosis, education about lifestyle changes, and proper medical care, people with type 2 diabetes can lead full lives without significant health issues."


Risk Factors

overweight woman at home lying on the floor, laptop in front of her, prepared to work out on mat according to video

Dr. Mitchell says, "It is no surprise that those most at risk of developing diabetes are typically individuals who are overweight and/or have a sedentary lifestyle. Studies have also suggested the role of genetics in an individual's predisposition to develop type 2 diabetes. People with a family history of diabetes, as well as certain ethnicities, including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans, are also considered to be at greater risk. Yet, people of all ages and lifestyles can be diagnosed with diabetes. Therefore, people of all ages and backgrounds must practice healthy lifestyle habits, including diet and exercise, to reduce their chances of developing the disease."

The Mayo Clinic says the following are risk factors:

  • "Weight. Being overweight or obese is a main risk.
  • Fat distribution. Storing fat mainly in your abdomen — rather than your hips and thighs — indicates a greater risk. Your risk of type 2 diabetes rises if you're a man with a waist circumference above 40 inches (101.6 centimeters) or a woman with a measurement above 35 inches (88.9 centimeters).
  • Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk. Physical activity helps control your weight, uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
  • Family history. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases if your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
  • Age. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially after age 35.
  • And more.


The Dangers of Not Managing Type 2 Diabetes

Teenage Girl With Appointment At Doctor's Surgery

According to Dr. Mitchell, If left unchecked, type 2 diabetes carries a myriad of health risks and complications. In the short term, this can mean frequent urinary infections and problems related to blood sugar control, such as fatigue, decreased energy levels, blurry vision, poor wound healing, and increased risk of heart disease. The long-term effects can be even more serious: individuals with poorly managed blood glucose levels are at an increased risk for kidney disease, nerve damage, higher stroke risk, foot problems requiring amputation, and an increased risk of developing certain cancers. Managing type 2 diabetes carefully over time is the ideal way to maintain health and lessen the potential for long-term complications."

The Mayo Clinic says, "Type 2 diabetes affects many major organs, including your heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Also, factors that increase the risk of diabetes are risk factors for other serious chronic diseases. Managing diabetes and controlling your blood sugar can lower your risk for these complications or coexisting conditions (comorbidities)."


Signs of Type 2 Diabetes

Young woman measures blood sugar level.

Dr. Mitchell emphasizes, "Diabetes is a serious medical condition that can have long-lasting health repercussions, so it's essential to recognize the warning signs of significant difficulties arising from Type 2 diabetes. Suppose you frequently experience excessive thirst or hunger, increased urination frequency, or unexplained weight loss or gain. In that case, those are clear signs that your body may not be responding properly to insulin—a key indicator of particular kinds of diabetes. 

If your feet feel numb or tingly, you experience blurred vision or extreme fatigue quickly after eating; this could be a more serious red flag that should be addressed as soon as possible with a healthcare provider. Other symptoms like slow-healing sores, frequent yeast infections, and difficulty paying attention can also point toward diabetes. Knowing these warning signs and not ignoring them is essential for managing blood sugar levels and complications that could arise from this very common health challenge."


Diet Plays a Big Role

Man eating pizza having a takeaway at home relaxing resting

Dr. Mitchell says, "Diet plays a crucial role in diagnosing, treating, and managing diabetes. Particularly for those with type 2 diabetes, it is key to understand proper nutrition to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and reduce complications. Eating a balanced diet high in fiber and low in calories helps the body regulate insulin sensitivity, improve or maintain a healthy weight, and lower one's risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. 

While monitoring sugar intake is essential for those living with diabetes, being conscious about the foods we eat daily also plays an essential part in controlling this condition. Also, choosing healthier foods like fruits and vegetables may help further reduce the risk of developing other health conditions such as heart disease. Ultimately, eating right can be one of the most effective steps towards protecting one's health should one live with or be at risk for diabetes."


​​Diabetes Should Be Taken Seriously


There's no cure for diabetes, but you can actually avoid the disease with certain lifestyle choices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with proven, achievable lifestyle changes—such as losing a small amount of weight and getting more physically active—even if you're at high risk." 

Dr. Mitchell shares, "In my experience, I found that due to the prevalence of diabetes, many patients have become numb or lack awareness about the potential seriousness of diabetes. As a physician, I feel it's my role to let the patients understand the implications of the disease very early on. Also, prediabetic patients can start experiencing serious, irreversible consequences due to sub-optimal sugar levels and lifestyle choices. Diabetes puts one at increased risk for pretty much every negative health outcome you can think of.

Family history can significantly impact your health – but it doesn't necessarily have to be a negative impact. By making aggressive, proactive steps and focusing on developing healthy habits, you can prove to your family that there is another way to approach a diabetes diagnosis should they ever experience one. You can take the lead and ensure that your lifestyle promotes good health and wellness with plenty of exercises, good food choices, and applicable medical advice for prevention where needed. It's also important to reach out for professional support to ensure you're doing all you can to maintain a high quality of life for yourself – and set an example for the rest of your family. With dedication and determination, having a family history of diabetes doesn't have to be a death sentence; it might just turn out to be an incredible opportunity for a positive lifestyle change."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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