The Year 2020

It’s 7:30 on Sunday morning and we’re already awake at our house…Sanjay Gupta is on CNN (diabetes special: Diabetes 2020 by Sanjay Gupta, MD) opening his regular health show with “one half of Americans will be pre-diabetic or diabetic by the year 2020…” and “one third of Americans will have diabetes by 2050.” He shares some of the current stats: 25.8 Americans now have diabetes and 79 million are pre-diabetic. For good measure, they show the diabetes prevalence map of our country, overlaid by the obesity map, which roughly mimics it.

It’s about 7:40 and Sanjay’s just invited another expert to join the discussion… I can’t type fast enough to capture all the details, but this one is calling diabetes and obesity “twin diseases,” explaining that excess body weight causes all sorts of maladies. So, obesity causes structural problems in the body…diabetes causes physiological problems as a result…this becomes part of the vicious cycle exacerbating that healthcare crises in which we find ourselves. (I’m saving the diagram of that cycle, and the “lifetime morbidity compression analysis” discussion for future posts…it is only 7:45AM after all.)

Now we’re still following this, and they’ve begun discussing causes, saying that although most of us know that lifestyle is responsible for much of the problem, many of us are not making the connection between the causes and making the right personal choices, or we’re not operationalizing it…and considering our culture, we have to “swim upstream” to do the right things. They recommend smaller portions, less times in front of screens, and fewer sugared drinks. They also share a bit about some legislation and other macro initiatives that could help…impending national food labeling, better urban planning, and maybe taxing certain foods.

It’s 8:00 and Sanjay just wrapped up. I know if we we’d talk about this in a room with 50 people, we’d have the same number of opinions, and probably a heated debate. But at the moment, I’ve decided to go downstairs to have a cup of coffee and think about what to have for breakfast.

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