Diabetes Deaths In The US Reach 100,000 For Second Year In A Row 

According to reports from Reuters, more than 100,000 Americans died from diabetes in 2021, marking the second straight year in which deaths exceeded that number. The new figures have been released as an expert panel continues to urge Congress to overhaul diabetes care and prevention. 

The panel is calling for broad policy change such as promoting the consumption of healthier foods, ensuring paid leave from the workplace, increasing taxes on sugary drinks, and expanding access to affordable housing and healthcare. 

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In 2019, diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in America, claiming the lives of about 87,000. The past three years alone reflect a long-running failure to address the disease and how the government can make treatment/prevention easy and affordable for those impacted. The Covid-19 pandemic has only made it harder for individuals to access care. 

According to a Reuters analysis of provisional death data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “diabetes-related deaths surged 17% in 2020 and 15% in 2021 compared to the pre pandemic level in 2019. That excluded deaths directly attributed to COVID-19. Additional deaths from 2021 are still being tallied.”

“The large number of diabetes deaths for a second year in a row is certainly a cause for alarm. Type 2 diabetes itself is relatively preventable, so it’s even more tragic that so many deaths are occurring,” said Dr. Paul Hsu, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. 

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In a new report, the National Clinical Care Commission created by Congress said that the “United States must adopt a more comprehensive approach to prevent more people from developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form, and to help people who are already diagnosed avoid life-threatening complications. About 37 million Americans, or 11% of the population, have diabetes, and one in three Americans will develop the chronic disease in their lifetime if current trends persist,” according to the commission.

“Diabetes in the U.S. cannot simply be viewed as a medical or health care problem, but also must be addressed as a societal problem that cuts across many sectors, including food, housing, commerce, transportation and the environment,” the commission wrote in a report to Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The commission said the “United States should better promote the purchase of fruits and vegetables in food assistance programs and ensure mothers have paid family leave to aid breastfeeding, which can help reduce the risk of diabetes in mothers and is associated with a reduced risk of obesity and diabetes in children.Additionally, imposing taxes on sugary drinks that would raise their shelf price by 10% to 20% and using the revenue to expand access to clean drinking water and fund similar programs.

In a statement, the CDC said the “report’s recommendations offer a detailed roadmap to addressing rising health-care costs attributed to diabetes, and reducing racial, ethnic, and income-related disparities in diabetes outcomes.”