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The health of individuals and communities is determined by a number of factors. To a large extent, the health of individuals depends on the circumstances and the environment surrounding the individual. Health determinants include social, economic, physical environments, and individual behaviors and characteristics (Determinants of Health, 2010). Diabetes is a health problem that clearly exemplifies the determinant of health mentioned above. This is because the characteristics and behaviors of an individual and the social and economic environment surrounding an individual (all can be summarized as an individual’s lifestyle) contribute greatly to suffering from diabetes.

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Two Types of Diabetes

There two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is common in children and adolescents and it mainly affects the urinary tract through infection. Type 2 diabetes is common in adults and the elderly and it affects organs such as the kidney, the heart and the nerves system as well (Diabetes, 2011). Common symptoms for both types of diabetes include feeling of fatigue, unexplained weight loss, poor wound healing, excessive urination (polyuria), excessive thirst (polydipsia), excessive eating (polyphagia), altered mental status, blurry vision and infections (skin and genital infections). Physicians recommend that the best treatment for both types of diabetes is eating health diet and living healthy. That is; eating a balanced diet with low amounts of sugar, salt and fat, and high amounts of vitamins, proteins and minerals, food components with high amount of fiber, exercising, and avoiding alcohol taking and smoking (Molitch et al., 2003)

American Diabetes Association Statistics

In the United States, diabetes is the fifth leading cause of mortality (American Diabetes Association, 2002). Studies indicate that diabetes contribute to high morbidity rates – people with diabetes are at higher risk of contracting chronic diseases such as heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. According to Harris (1998), epidemiological studies performed in America 40 years ago showed that the prevalence diabetes has dramatically increased. A large portion of American population has undiagnosed diabetes, specifically, the minority population (Harris, 1998).

This has resulted into increased societal burden in terms of economic costs. In 2002, total direct and indirect spending attributed to diabetes was estimated to be $132 billion (American Diabetes Association, 2002). This was more than half of the total spending on health care by the government that year. Total time spent in health care facilities in regard to diabetes and cases related to diabetes was also more than half of the total health care time. Family members of individuals suffering from diabetes and diabetes-related illnesses also incurred heavy financial and time spending compared to time and money spent in other things. It is therefore clear that the societal burden for diabetes is very heavy for Americans.

Diabetes also has some implications to health care administrators. People suffering from diabetes require personalized attention, especially where severe cases of diabetes are reported. For example, a person suffering from acute diabetes may also be suffering from blurry vision. Such a person will need a caregiver to help him/her in walking around (exercising), eating, bathing, and toileting. Such a person may also require a nutritionist who will ensure that he/she not only eats a balanced diet, but also eats them in the right quantities. This means that increased cases of diabetes increase the need nonclinical staffs (for example, social workers or home-based nurses) in order to take care of diabetic people and help them in recovery.


Diabetes is a serious health problem affecting our nation. It not only causes a burden to the government in terms of spending, but it also causes a burden to the families of people suffering from it and to the health care administrators. Health eating and leading a healthy lifestyle is the best method to control and treat diabetes.

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