by Sarah Pittman
Ever since the discovery of diabetes clinicians knew that what you ate had a direct correlation to the progression of the disease. In the early 1900’s the only treatment for diabetes were specific diets that included the oat-cure, the milk diet, the rice cure, and overfeeding to counterbalance for the loss of fluids and weight. But with no real medicinal treatment, the average life expectancy for a 10 year old with diabetes was 1 year. “Diagnosis at age 30 carries a life expectancy of about 4 years. A newly diagnosed 50-year-old might live 8 more years” (Swidorski, 2014).
Diabetic researchers in the 1920’s realized that the pancreatic enzymes seemed to help patients that were in a diabetic coma. But it wasn’t until the 1940’s that an injection for diabetic patients was the main way to control blood glucose levels.
In 1959 the discovery of Type 1 vs Type 2 diabetes was discovered; this lead to clinicians being able to treat an individual more specifically according to their diagnosis. As time goes on insulin pumps are developed, HbA1c is introduced and external insulin pumps start to be used as a main treatment for the disease.
So how have the rates of diabetes changed over time?
Although there is minimal data on how many people accurately had diabetes in the early 1900’s, the reported death rate from diabetes for children under age 15 was 3.1/100,000/year in 1920. Today it is estimated that about 193,000 Americans under age 20 have diabetes.
Currently, the American population is 323.1 million, with 30.3 million Americans having diabetes according to The American Diabetes Association; with 84.1 million Americans over age 18 having pre-diabetes.
“November: American Diabetes Month.” healthfinder.gov, Oct. 2017, https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/NovemberToolkit.aspx Accessed 28 Oct. 2017
Swidorski, Dawn. “Diabetes History.” Defeatdiabetes.org, 22 Jan. 2014. https://www.defeatdiabetes.org/diabetes-history/ Accessed 28 Oct. 2017.
“Overall Numbers, Diabetes and Prediabetes.” 19 July 2017. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/ Accessed 28 Oct. 2017.
“U.S Population (Live).” Worldometers.com, Oct 2017. http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/
Gale, Edwin A.M. “The Rise of Childhood Type 1 Diabetes in the 20th Century.” American Diabetes Association, vol. 51, issue 12. December 2002, doi: 10.2337/diabetes.51.12.3353. Accessed 28 Oct 2017.
This blog was posted by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website on Facebook, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.