Wait, what? I thought Diabetes was on the RISE???

“Last year, government researchers reported that U.S. life expectancy has surpassed 78 years for the first time. They attributed the increase to falling mortality rates for nine of the 15 leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, accidents and diabetes.”

In this article on the supposed 5 month gain in longevity attributable to cleaner air, the little gem of a phrase above appears at the end of the entire article.  As though it is a given.  A known fact.  Something that EVERYONE just KNOWS.  Oh yeah, you know those falling rates of diabetes are part of why we’re living longer.  But am I the only one who did a mental double-take on that phrase and have a “Wait, WTF?!?” moment?  Not only with the “Buh, what?  We’re living longer you say?  Not doomed to die more quickly?  And and…the mortality rates for things like diabetes has been DECREASING!?!? Well shiiiit!”

I mean anyone willing to look beyond the latest media hyped scares will know that, unfortunately for scare mongers looking for more delicious fear-tidbits to force-feed the public, the US is overall getting healthier. But I guess that sort of thing doesn’t make for good and morally terrifying news that will shock the masses into reacting For Their Health (because, you know, we just aren’t aware we’re fat and At Risk), by opting for such invasive and drastic measures as needed to look good…uh I mean Be Healthy, to Have Good American Health!  Which is, apparently, already good on average and improving.  But I guess getting an “A” for health must not be good enough.  I guess having a population that is nearly 91% healthy and living longer just isn’t cutting it.  Yeah. 

Ask anyone and you will hear with certainty, utter conviction that we Americans are Fatter and Flabbier and Going To Die Sooner!  Especially of the diabetes!  I mean, you hit that tick mark from “normal” BMI to “overweight” BMI and suddenly alarms are ringing, nurses are heading down halls in a panicked flurry waving needles full of insulin and a voice over is piped overhead to announce where you can get good insulin testing supplies.  And heaven help you if you actually become Obese or… *gasps* Morbidly Obese!

So my question is, how can folks be claiming there is some sort of “Diabetes Cris-emic” if, in fact, mortality rates for this same disease have been steadily decreasing?!?? Anyone else feel their head exploding from trying to hold two contradictory essential “truths” (Falling mortality rates for diabetes, Epi-panic anticipated increases of diabetes) inside at the same time?

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12 thoughts on “Wait, what? I thought Diabetes was on the RISE???

  1. I don’t even try to hold those contradictory ideas in my head anymore. If the media yells that something is going to kill us, or diseases are on the rise because of TEHFATZ, I tend to ignore it, simply because I figure it’s nothing but fear-mongering to sell more drugs/diets/surgeries. I’m jaded when it comes to believing anything the media spouts about health (and cynical too). The media is so firmly in the pockets of the diet industry and big pharma that they wouldn’t know the truth about health if it walked up and slapped them in the face. The truth doesn’t get people worried, the truth doesn’t make people so afraid that they’re willing to suffer the side effects of drugs that haven’t been tested enough before they’re sold (which side effects can be worse than the disease they’re supposed to treat), the truth doesn’t sell millions of papers, and the truth sure doesn’t get proper research funded. And the truth has nothing to do with an ever-shrinking aesthetic ideal.

  2. While I technically agree with you, it does say that mortality rates due to diabetes are going down, not that diabetes rates themselves are decreasing. So it could be possible that more people have diabetes, but because of medical advances, those people are less likely to die because of it.

  3. Like Harvey says – mortality rates are deaths from diabetes per person with diabetes. It’s perfectly possible for the incidence of diabetes (or even the total number of deaths due to diabetes) to go up while the mortality rate goes down.

  4. It could also be that the mortality rate of diabetes is decreasing due to them changing the diagnostic criteria.

    What would be interesting would be to find out whether or how much the percentage of false positives have increased or not on what they were before these changes were made.

    As for the trippy twin track nature of the ob/diabetes crisis versus actual reality they are separate.

    Such is the pressure the crisis is putting on them, that it’s acting like a self fulfilling prophecy of its own. This is shaping their actions-they’ve always shaped the crisis, that’s why we can’t get a word in edgeways.

    It’s social engineering, they’ve so come to believe in their crusade, that their actions seek to bring it into effect. As you can see with the headlines of the links in your post. Try reading them as the narrative of the crisis and you can see that there is the reality, and there is the crisis, they are directing themselves to merge the two.

  5. Harveypenguin, I did notice the phrasing on “mortality” rates and how it was not indicating the rate of cases in total. However, the “anticipated increases” article I linked to has an entire section entitled “The Average Diabetic Person Will Die 15 Years Prematurely in 2050”. So yeah, really they are trying to panic us into thinking we’ll die earlier too even though mortality rates have actually declined.

  6. Regardless if rates of diabetes cases themselves are increasing or not, this report does rebut the whole “This is the first generation to be outlived by their parents” scare tactic (which has no basis in any fact, but rather, an editorial).

  7. I’m pretty sure the increase in incidence is down to a) the goalposts having actually changed, and b) a fanatical effort to test everyone’s blood sugar where they might not have done before. The rate hasn’t necessarily risen, but the rate of diagnosis has.

    This especially applies to kids – they never used to even test for Type II in children as it wasn’t considered to be something kids ever got.

    There are also more sinister motives – check out this UK newspaper article:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1106953/A-person-Britain-diagnosed-diabetes-THREE-minutes.html

    Note the bit about doctors being paid bonuses to diagnose Type II, and the comments from people who’ve been misdiagnosed. My own experience suggests they put a lot more emphasis on a single blood stick than ever before, and that sometimes they don’t even bother to tell you not to eat (or ask if you have) before taking an impromptu ‘fasting’. That’s shoddy medicine, and if the situation in the US is anywhere close, it’s little wonder if the figures are soaring.

  8. My kids are going to be tested for diabetes in school much like an eye exam. “Acanthosis Nigricans – is a recognizable skin feature that can indicate high levels of insulin in the body.”

    State mandated.

  9. The criteria for diabetes has changed so that people like my dad, who was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, became diabetic with the same blood sugar levels he’d had for years – which had been considered normal. Perhaps people who’ve been diagnosed under the new critera aren’t suffering from the health problems people with higher blood sugar have. So there may actually be more diagnosed cases of diabetes but less deaths from it.

    Recently, the definition of a heart attack was changed too. So we’ll most likley be seeing the same thing there – more people diagnosed with heart disease at the same time less people are actually dying from it.

  10. State mandated does not mean parents cannot say NO and request their children be “opted out” from any medical screenings except for emergency, life-saving first aid. Parents just need to know that they can.

  11. Here’s something to remember about type 2 diabetes, though, courtesy of Paul Ernsberger: Almost everyone will get it if they live long enough. It’s overwhelmingly a disease of heredity (in those who develop it before they get old) and aging (when it becomes extremely common, especially in people over 75). You have to die of something, alas; it’s a matter of which part of your body decides to crap out first.

  12. I’m late to this convo but as this (public health and it’s intersection with diabetes) is my area of expertise (as opposed to the many things in the world I know nothing about) I have a few things to say:
    – Fewer people are dying of diabetes. This could mean that people who have diabetes are dying of other things — living longer in the process.
    – Diabetes is being diagnosed more frequently and earlier. This could be a good thing or not, depending on what the diagnosis of diabetes means. The most predominant cause of death in people with diabetes are heart attacks and strokes, and these are more frequent, and can happen earlier, in people with diabetes than people without diabetes. But for type 2 diabetes, preventing or delaying heart and blood vessel problems might have more to do with cholesterol and blood pressure than with blood sugar. So, while blood sugar control is important, maybe more important are looking at blood pressure and lipids. The recommendations for testing for diabetes are now more limited to those people who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
    – There have been real strides in diabetes management and care — keeping an eye on things and having people with diabetes come in more often, may help keep people alive longer and with better quality of life.

    I have had type 2 diabetes since I was 25, nearly 15 years ago. I have been on the medication metformin for almost 10 years, and I have found it has made the diabetes much easier to manage. This medication isn’t very old (approved for type 2 in the US since 1994), has some side effects but is generally tolerated okay, and appears to be protective of the heart and blood vessles. It could be that metformin has had an impact on the overall health of the population of people with type 2 diabetes.

    I know that diabetes is this major threat that is held out there as a way to say “see, it’s bad to be obese” but in reality, some fat people are expressing their genes for not only fatness but the ability to develop diabetes at a young(er) age. In theory, the idea is out there that if they didn’t become obese, they wouldn’t develop diabetes, and there may be some truth to that, but we don’t have any more effective strategies for keeping people from becoming fat than we do for making fat people thin.

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