Diabetes affects almost 400 million adults around the world and contributes to nearly 5 million annual deaths. November is American Diabetes Month, but on November 14, the entire world joins together to unite their voices against this disease on World Diabetes Day (WDD).
It was started back in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). And today, WWD is the world’s largest diabetes awareness campaign reaching a global audience of over 1 billion people in more than 160 countries. The campaign draws attention to relevant issues within the diabetes community and this year’s theme is “act today to change tomorrow,” with a focus on healthy eating habits and the importance of access to healthy, affordable food in reducing the global burden of the disease.
Diabetes is one of the most widespread conditions in the world.1 Globally, more than 370 million people are living with diabetes, including over 25 million in the United States alone.2 And throughout November, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) will raise awareness about everything diabetes, from risk factors and genetics to proper diet and blood sugar testing. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has also named today, November 14th, World Diabetes Day, and now is the time to start sharing your experiences with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus sometimes gets lumped into a singular condition, but as you probably know, there are actually two very different kinds of diabetes, labeled type 1 and 2 (There is a third type, known as gestational diabetes that can sometimes occur during pregnancy but is not necessarily permanent). Type 2 is by far the most common, and the IDF’s website has a great infographic explaining the basics.
So what’s going on this month? Both the ADA and the IDF are coordinating a ton of ways to promote diabetes awareness during November, and if you’re unsure where to begin, here are a few ideas to check out:
Just recently, nearly 600 diabetes members filled out the 17-item Diabetes Distress Scale (DDS), which measures the amount and types of problems diabetes can cause in a person’s life. Check out the complete results here.
The community also just participated in one of our very first Open Research Exchange (ORE) questionnaires. In fact, more that 700 diabetes members added their voice to it. PatientsLikeMe’s pilot research partner Dr. William Polonsky is developing the WHY STOP scale on ORE, which will help us all understand if we’re eating a meal, how do we decide we’re done. Stay tuned for more info and the complete results!
Finally, check out our interview with Dr. Richard A. Jackson, who shared some of his thoughts with us last June. He’s currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and also the former Director of the Hood Center for the Prevention of Childhood Diabetes at The Joslin Diabetes Center. Richard has been studying diabetes for over 30 years – he even led the first National Institutes of Health clinical trial to study diabetes prevention.
There are over 13,000 PatientsLikeMe members currently living with diabetes, and many of them have been sharing their experiences and contributing to real-world research that could benefit their fellow diabetes patients. If you’re living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can find others just like you on PatientsLikeMe. Track your own experience with a personal health profile, or share your story in the community forums to start living better together, during American Diabetes Month and all year long.
Today is World Diabetes Day, sponsored by the International Diabetes Federation. An official United Nations Day since 2007, World Diabetes Day is held every year on November 14th to commemorate the birthday of Frederick Banning. Along with Charles Best, Banning is credited with the life-saving discovery of insulin in 1922.
Why is there a need for a global diabetes day? As the United Nations wrote in their 2007 resolution, diabetes is “a chronic, debilitating and costly disease associated with major complications that pose severe risks for families, countries and the entire world.” Namely, it is the cause of four million deaths worldwide every year, with someone dying every eight seconds from the disease.
The global symbol for diabetes awareness is a blue circle, and supporters everywhere are encouraged to wear blue today to help spread the word about this pandemic. You can also help get the message out about prevention. While type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, research shows that, in many cases, type 2 diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active. Regular walking for at least 30 minutes per day, for example, has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 35-40%.
We recently highlighted type 1 diabetes (and how it differs from type 2) in our blog post, “American Diabetes Month Kicks Off with T1 Day,” as well as our two-part interview with type 1 patient Michael Burke. Here’s a little more information about type 2 diabetes, which accounts for at least 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide. At PatientsLikeMe, 1,773 patients report type 2 diabetes, with 68% of them female and 32% male. One of the most commonly reported treatments is Metformin, an oral anti-diabetic medication prescribed when hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) due to diabetes cannot be controlled through exercise and diet alone. What do patients say about this drug? Check out the 125 treatment evaluations submitted by our members, who share their experiences with dosage, side effects, efficacy, cost and more.
With a staggering 366 million people diagnosed with diabetes worldwide – and another 300 million at risk – it’s imperative that diabetes awareness and knowledge grow faster than the disease itself. The new “Calling All Types” diabetes awareness campaign – an initiative of PatientsLikeMe and our partner BBK Worldwide – helped mark World Diabetes Day this past weekend at the Diabetes University 2011 event in Atlanta, Georgia. Now in its 18th year, this event works to educate both medical professionals and the public. Given that the prevalence of diabetes in Atlanta is a full point higher than the national average, Calling All Types has made Atlanta the focal point of the campaign’s initial awareness-raising activities.
Are you a type 1 or type 2 diabetes patient? Share your story at CallingAllTypes.com in honor of World Diabetes Day. For everyone else, “act now” by wearing blue, talking about type 2 diabetes prevention or simply taking a walk around your neighborhood.