Today marks World Diabetes Day, a commemoration of the disease that affects over 29 million Americans: 9.3% of the country’s population. November 14th also coincides with the birthday of Frederick Banting, the first physician and scientist to use insulin on human patients—and the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of physiology and medicine.
Diabetes manifests in two major forms; Type 1 is characterized by a lack of insulin production—the cause is unknown, and unpreventable. Type 2 diabetes, which is more common and accounts for approximately 90% of diabetics worldwide, is often preventable: it results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Because the pancreas generates little to no insulin, or the cells cannot utilize the insulin efficiently and effectively, glucose cannot enter the cells and builds up in the blood.
Because both types of diabetes are intensified by poor lifestyle choices, it is critical to build awareness around the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition. This day serves as a reminder for governments, communities, and individual citizens to recognize and support diabetes prevention, treatment, and care.