Type 2 diabetes keeps taking its toll throughout the developed world, due to widespread
well-known risk factors: smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, consumption of food rich in
trans fats + sugar, and a sedentary lifestyle. The USA has been and is still being hit hard by this
glucemic disorder, and they have recently discovered that hispanics are more prone to develop
type 2 diabetes. This could be yet another thing about their diabetes epidemic that Spaniards
should consider.

In Spain, food consumption has changed greatly in the last 40 years, and the traditional
products, dishes, cooking and eating habits have been affected. Obesity rate nears 15%, while
overweight stands at about 38% these days. Type 2 diabetes prevalence is yet higher than
10% and rising. Despite recent and very tough policies on smoking, plus more than 30 years
of health campaigns against it, still 25% of the population over 16 years of age keep on using
tobacco. Spain is famous worldwide for its cultural permisivity regarding alcohol consumption,
and will be facing serious health problems in a near future due to the unfortunate interaction
of this relaxed attitude with the fashionable teen drinking binge. Sedentary lifestyle? Of
course, jobs now are mostly sedentary, people crowd in urban areas with little open spaces
and too polluted streets (where you do not really feel like going for a walk), parks and gardens
are a luxury, children are expected to keep to their seats hour after hour at school, and many
do not go back home for the midday meal because of their parents’ working schedule. Most
people do their shopping and housework during weekends… etc.

Diabetes is not the only reason why this country should be paying more attention to its
population lifestyle, but it is a very relevant one. Not too familiar with the illness, it is likely
that some information on possible consequences of diabetes would open the public eye.
Diabetes is popularly believed to be a condition that has “little” practicalities involved: you
take the medicines prescribed, do some exercise and follow the diet suggested by your doctor.
Well, that is not all! Glucemic control is vital but, even when generally achieved, high levels of
glucose in blood cause complications overtime: neuropathy, erectile dysfunction, ocular issues
(that can lead to blindness), kidney damage, heart disease and strokes, feet amputation…
Most of these likely consequences of long-time or uncontrolled diabetes are overlooked by the
general population, and they would probably benefit from brief & clear explanations regarding
the disease, its causes, course, complications and, at least in Spain, prevention, as recent
surveys show that there is little culture on preventive medicine amongst Spaniards, with as
little as 1% of the population assuming that prevention helps to extend our years of feeling
healthy.

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