Certain scenes from Disney flicks you see as a kid can end up haunting you forever. But as scared as I was by Ursula when I saw The Little Mermaid at 6 years old, I saw one of the most terrifying scenes only a couple of years ago, as an adult ... in WALL-E. Pixar's illustration of humanity's future -- basically, we become obese slobs who float around all day sipping Big Gulps and communicating via screens -- terrified me, because sometimes, I feel like there's lots o' proof that we're headed in that direction.
Researchers tend to be on the same page as Pixar. Just in time for World Diabetes Day, they're reporting that less than 20 years from now, 552 million people could have diabetes. Already, 366 million people suffer from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but because more people are aging and gorging themselves on high-cal foods and sitting around like couch potatoes, 10 percent of people worldwide could soon be diagnosed with the disease.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that most people aren't all that freaked out about diabetes. When reports like this one come out, most of us think we're invincible ... or our lifestyle couldn't possibly be as bad as other people's. Or who cares, we'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it. Yadayada. The threat of diabetes seems to be far less freaky to most of us than top killers like cancer, but that's probably a misjudgment on our parts.
Around 180,000 people in the U.S. die each year due to diabetes, and it costs us a lot too! Medical treatment and productivity losses combined for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease could total $47 trillion through 2030. You don't have to be the leader of a country to realize A LOT of money could be saved if only we prioritized preventative care. And I'm not talking about prescription drugs. We've heard it over and over again, but type 2 diabetes and heart disease can be prevented by simply being more active and eating healthier. Most Americans could stand to really commit to those things (and not just for a couple of weeks in January)!
But staving off diabetes also has to be a team effort. What I mean is ... the government could do more to make healthy food more affordable. Health insurers must reward, instead of punish us for doing things that can preempt disease, like seeing a naturopathic physician or even just signing up at a yoga studio. (After all, it'll save them more money in the long-haul!)
The bottom line: It's time we all got the wake-up call that diabetes is a real threat looming in our future, and we're at a turning point now. We can either fight back or fall even further down the rabbit hole.
Do you think people consider diabetes a real health threat?
Image via Images Money/Flickr