The tsunami that threatens to swamp the world’s health care systems is not about aging Boomers. What is rolling inexorably our way will make the temporary wave of that aging cohort look like a low tide. We are killing the kids.
Two of the major bullets fired at our kids are diabetes and obesity and their long-term consequences.
A study published April 29th by the New England Journal of Medicine raises the specter that Type 2 diabetes in children is virtually uncontrollable through drugs or lifestyle interventions. They predict some combination of drugs and possibly insulin dependency lie ahead for these young people.
Type 2 diabetes was an adult disease until 10 or 15 years ago. Generally linked with poor diet and lack of exercise, it could often be kept under control through lifestyle changes. Now millions of children have been diagnosed with what used to be called “adult-onset diabetes.”
In Canada, where Type 2 diabetes in First Nations communities was virtually unknown forty years ago, children as young eight are being diagnosed. The same thing is happening in countries around the world, as people move from traditional foods and embrace a western diet.
The health care implications are horrifying. Among long-term complications of Type 2 diabetes are cardiovascular disease, retinal disease and possible loss of vision, coronary artery disease, neuropathy (nerve damage, usually in the legs and feet), and kidney disease.
The earlier diabetes strikes, the greater the costs, both in dollars and in quality of life.
Photo 1 from tgolf_69 via Flickr Creative Commons; photos 2 and 3: Thinkstock
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