How Health Officials Accelerated the Diabetes Pandemic
Diabetes has reached crisis levels in the U.S., with 10.5% of Americans affected.1 That data came from 2018 — before the pandemic — and the problem has only worsened since. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2017,2 but diabetes deaths surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, rising 17% in 2020.3
While COVID-19 was a problem — 39.5% of COVID-19 deaths occurred among people with diabetes4 — even diabetics who didn’t get COVID-19 suffered, often falling victim to isolation, social distancing, lack of medical care and fear, instead.
Younger people have been disproportionately affected, with diabetes deaths among 25- to 44-year-olds jumping 29% in 2020. Other deaths from everything, excluding COVID-19, rose 6% that year,5 highlighting the dismal public health failure that accelerated the diabetes pandemic.
Medical System, Dietary Advice Failing People With Diabetes
Even prior to the pandemic, diabetes was on an alarming trajectory that saw hospitalization for hyperglycemic crises increase by 73% from 2009 to 2015. Diabetes deaths rose by 55% during that time.6
Inactivity and poor diet are fueling the diabetes crisis, causing people to develop the condition at younger ages. Diets focused on ultraprocessed foods and fast foods are the root of the problem, as they’re loaded with seed oils — misleadingly known as “vegetable oils” — that contain toxic oxidized omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) that accelerate metabolic dysfunction.7
Yet, the American Diabetes Association continues to recommend seed oils like canola as “part of a healthy, balanced diet.”8 Diabetes is a manageable — and often reversible — condition, provided you make positive lifestyle changes and get proper medical care and advice.
However, many people are limited by their insurance plans as to which care providers they can see, and others forgo medical care entirely to avoid having to pay out-of-pocket costs. As it stands, diabetes treatment costs top $230 billion a year in the U.S., yet the diabetes mortality rate is 42% higher than it is in 10 other industrialized countries.9
“The focus in U.S. health care on treating crises over preventing them doesn’t help, downplaying the importance of lifestyle changes that could lessen the severity of the disease,” a Reuters investigation reported. “‘Over and over again, the problem is worse in young adults, and there isn’t improvement in older adults,’ Ed Gregg, a former CDC researcher, told Reuters. ‘The magnitude of the increase has set us back 15 to 20 years.’”10
In fact, in 2020 only accidents and overdose deaths rose faster than diabetes deaths, which beat out Alzheimer’s disease, flu and pneumonia, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and cancer for the dubious title of fastest-rising deaths.11
Fearful of COVID, People Died of Diabetes Instead
The Reuters investigation follows the case of a 42-year-old woman whose death from complications of Type 2 diabetes during the pandemic was the result of isolation and fear. Locked down in her home, fearful of COVID-19, she ordered fast food and lost the motivation to eat better and exercise, and had difficulty getting adequate medical care.
Ultimately, “the isolation and the financial and logistical issues proved overwhelming.”12 In another case, a 68-year-old man with Type 2 diabetes had his leg amputated after avoiding medical care for a chronic sore out of fear of COVID-19.
These stories aren’t unique. Sandra Arevalo, director of community and patient education at Montefiore Hospital in Nyack, New York, told Reuters that diabetes deaths, amputations and intensive care admissions had plagued several patients she knew of after they delayed medical care during the pandemic.
“The diagnosis was uncontrolled diabetes, but it was caused by COVID fear. COVID caused more damage than we realized,” Arevalo said13 Giuseppina Imperatore, with the CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation, also told Reuters that “the impact of the COVID pandemic on people with diabetes cannot be overstated.”14
Diabetes Cases Tripled Among Youth in 2020
Young people are also suffering. Among 8- to 20-year-olds, Type 2 diabetes diagnoses tripled in 2020 at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., and they’re showing up sicker than they did in the past, with 23% affected by diabetic ketoacidosis, compared to 4% in 2019.15 School closures and reduced physical activity triggered by the pandemic were likely factors in the sudden rise.
“It was really pointing us to the indirect effect of social distancing,” Dr. Brynn Marks, a pediatric endocrinologist
Article from LewRockwell