According to the CDC, an estimated 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, including 7 million that are unaware that they are living with the disease.
It is a health problem that lawmakers are calling staggering.
Two out of five people living in Wisconsin will develop type 2 diabetes at some point in their lifetime according to a new study.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates that the disease piles up over $5.5 billion in healthcare costs annually.
Carly Overgard, an RN at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, says that the disease can be hard to pinpoint the causes of diabetes.
“When you look at Type 2 diabetes versus Type 1, Type 2 diabetes is difficult,” Overgard said. “You have genetic factors one and then you have environmental factors. So, often it can be related to both making it difficult to treat.”
Overgard says that type 2 diabetes is becoming an epidemic, but it can be treated by confronting the other factors that often show up in a type 2 diagnosis.
“We can treat the environmental factors; we can treat overweight or obesity as we call it,” she said. “It is an epidemic in the nation which is leading to the diagnosis of a lot of type 2 diabetes even in children these days. So we need to look at lifestyle factors. Those are things we can do, controlling blood pressure which also leads to heart disease and stroke.”
Susan Kasic-Miller, a dietitian at Sacred Heart, says that just losing five to ten pounds can reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes.
“A lot of times when people have diabetes, particularly Type Two diabetes, and they’re very frustrated because they can’t get good control of their blood sugars,” Kasic-Miller said. “I’ll talk to them about how a change and a loss in five to ten pounds can make a big difference in how well their blood sugars come down and can be controlled by their medications.”
A new bipartisan proposal is making its way through state lawmakers to develop a diabetes action plan with data on prevalence and prevention.
Under the proposal, the state’s Health Department would receive $107,600 to gather and analyze data to prepare biennial reports for lawmakers.
Health officials at Sacred Heart say that this is a good direction the state is going in, but also say that there is more that can be done.