World Diabetes Day: Nov. 14: Global Diabetes Epidemic Has Particular Impact in Arizona Populations

The United Nations designation of Nov. 14 as World Diabetes Day

Does your lifestyle put you at increased risk for diabetes? Craig Stump, MD, PhD, interim director for the UA Diabetes Research Program and associate professor of medicine, offers advice for preventing or minimizing the risk.

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Learn about the ABCs of diabetes control with this video clip:

The United Nations designation of Nov. 14 as World Diabetes Day reminds us that the diabetes epidemic is a global health problem that requires a global focus on diet, physical activity and health. Closer to home, the diabetes epidemic is intertwined with growing obesity and related cardiovascular, renal and metabolic diseases that are sweeping across the state of Arizona as well as the nation.

Diabetes is the fifth-deadliest disease in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). About 20.8 million Americans (7 percent of the population) have the disease. The economic burden is more than $132 billion per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ADA.

In Arizona, diabetes is particularly devastating. Mexican-Americans, the largest Hispanic/Latino subgroup, are 1.7 times as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearing House. Native Americans are 2.2 times as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. A growing number of retired and elderly in the region add to the magnitude of this disease.

At The University of Arizona College of Medicine, diabetes researchers are collaborating with cardiovascular disease experts to advance the treatment and understanding of diabetes and related complications.

“While diabetes is often considered a condition in which blood sugar is elevated, the effects of diabetes often start before elevated blood sugar is detected. Diabetes affects all organs of the body, especially the cardiovascular system,” says Dr. Stump.

“Research data shows a parallel rise in the rate of diabetes and weight gain. While we often think of genetic predisposition plus lifestyle creating the diabetes risk, genetics would not change this fast in a generation. Lifestyle is the key factor and we need to get people to be more active,” adds Dr. Stump.

He recommends that people consider how they can increase their physical activity. “People shouldn’t feel they need to join a health club or buy expensive equipment. They might start by walking or gardening or other activities that get them moving,” says Dr. Stump, whose research focuses on the contribution of physical inactivity, obesity and insulin resistance to the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and related complications.

Betsy Dokken, PhD, NP, studies the effects of diabetes on heart function and recovery from injury. Also a certified diabetic educator, she recommends that people with diabetes keep track of key lab values known as the ABC’s of diabetes. “A is for A1c hemoglobin, which measures average blood sugar over several months. B is for blood pressure which should be under 130 over 80. C is for cholesterol. Total cholesterol should be under 200. But more importantly, LDL should be under 100, unless the person has cardiovascular disease, then LDL should be under 70. HDL should be higher than 45 and triglycerides should be under 150,” says Dr. Dokken.

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Editor’s Note: UA researchers are available for interviews and lab tours upon request. Please call Katie Maass, AHSC Office of Public Affairs, (520) 626-7301.