Let’s take a moment to gain some perspective around diabetes as a disease. It might not be as globally abundant as cancer or cardiovascular diseases, but it certainly is life-threatening. Type 1 diabetes affects everyone, it does not care for social status, type 2 diabetes however is a different story. Type 2 diabetes is especially gaining concern as the number of patients keep rising. There seems to be a proportional increase in type 2 diabetes patients together with people diagnosed with obesity. Wealth has a lot to do with this disease. People living in deprived areas have 50% more chance to develop diabetes compared to people with higher incomes. Indeed there are “powerful underlying societal factors behind the diabetes epidemic”.
It is often the poor, those with limited resources and virtually no healthcare, that suffer the consequences of the disease the most. In low-income countries, up to one in six people get diagnosed with diabetes.
It comes as no surprise that diabetes and obesity go hand in hand. People from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be exposed to risk factors. They have better access to energy-rich and processed foods and usually don’t exercise enough either. Food companies play an important role in this.
So not only are the poor more likely to be exposed to a ‘obesogenic’ environment, they also usually can’t afford the treatment once they develop the disease.
Moreover, women who are exposed to bad nutrition during pregnancy can cause the child to be more vulnerable towards the disease later in life.
Other implications might be a decrease in quality of life and life expectancy, economical struggle, unemployment, etc.
Trying to diagnose diabetes in the earlier stages, preventive actions and the use of effective modern therapies could cut back the social costs of diabetes.
In my own opinion, people need to drastically change their eating behaviour and engage more in physical activity even if it might not be as easy to come by. Of course you cannot choose in what kind of situation you are born into, but ones you develop diabetes, there is no way back. Needless to say prevention is crucial here.