By Johanna Murray
Over 29 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, a number that has increased from 26 million in 2010, according to the American Diabetes Association, or ADA.
In Michigan alone, the disease affects 12.4 percent of the population, an increase from 8 percent in 2005, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The ADA reported that in the past 30 years, diagnosed diabetes has increased by 382 percent. This number isn’t likely to slow down either. It estimates that every year, in Michigan, 57,000 people are diagnosed with the disease.
Diabetes affects the production and use of insulin or blood sugar in the body. Diabetes is characterized into two types: Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 is when the body does not produce insulin. This type mostly affects children and young adults.
Type 2 is is when the body doesn’t use insulin properly and causes sugar levels to rise. This type is the most common form and has seen the greatest increase in amongst those diagnosed.
Katharine Murray, a grant project manager at Michigan State University, works with support from the ADA to develop and test a mobile app to help kids ages 10 to 15 track their Type 1 diabetes.
Murray believes that Type 2 diabetes can be, but is not always, the result of an unhealthy lifestyle exacerbated by some unhealthy dietary norms in American society. When it comes to Type 1, Murray said, “scientists and doctors don’t know what causes Type 1 in every person, that’s why for now there is no cure. It quite possibly could be an environmental issue, but there have also been genetic links.”
Tabatha Beaver, a first year social work major at Western Michigan University, was diagnosed as a teenager with Type 1 diabetes. “When I was first diagnosed at 14, living with diabetes was one of the hardest things to do. I had just started my freshman year of high school and already felt weird, then to have to give myself shots every day made me feel even worse,” said “Now, I’m quite confident with who I am, which I think diabetes helped with.”
Beaver’s sister was also diagnosed with diabetes, which Beaver said has made having the disease easier. “I am very close with my sister, we bonded over both being diabetic.”
For now, those diagnosed live knowing there is no cure. But Katharine Murray reiterates what Tabitha Beaver has already discovered. Murray says that “having social and emotional support can make a big impact on quality of life” and hopes that those diagnosed will seek out that support.