Diabetes in the past 20 years has risen to become one of America’s most prevalent chronic diseases. And its link to obesity is undeniable.The good news is diabetes is largely controllable if obesity can be controlled. However, the obesity epidemic increasingly drives the rates of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. About 26 million people it the U.S. have diabetes, up from about 17 million a decade ago.As obesity rates increase in children, it puts them at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes as adults. Obese children and adolescents are more likely to have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels put the person at high risk for developing diabetes.Left uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to severe kidney damage and failure, limb amputations associated with poor circulation, and death.Treating diabetes and all of its fallout effects puts a tremendous extra financial burden on employers, insurers, care providers and individuals. Annually the direct cost of treating diabetes exceeds $116 billion and another nearly $60 billion is spent annually on indirect costs, according to the American Diabetes Association.A healthy diet and daily exercise remain pillars of preventing and managing both obesity and type 2 diabetes. But given the rising rates of each, we clearly need more avenues.Attacking obesity through science – learning how it functions, the hormones that influence it, what roles genetics play, how appetite can more accurately be controlled and why recidivism rates following weight loss are more than 80-90 percent – offers a twofold promise of combating both problems.
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