The High Cost of Diabetes and What You Can Do About It

A diabetes nurse educator discusses diabetes management strategies with a retired Navy chief.
Nancy Pullen, a diabetes nurse educator at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida, discusses diabetes management strategies with retired Navy chief Vendetter Boddie at a Diabetes 101 class on Sept. 11, 2018. (Jacob Sippel/U.S. Navy photo)

Eighteen million Americans have diabetes, but did you know that more than 90% of all diabetes cases either can be prevented or significantly delayed? And guess what can help you avoid diabetes? The amazing panacea of exercise and a healthy diet is the answer. It seems the many medical studies published concerning American health all come back to fitness.

From the National Institutes of Health webpage, diabetes is defined in three categories:

  • Type I diabetes is a very serious and non-preventable condition where the patient needs a daily dose of insulin since the pancreas does not produce it at all or in enough quantities.
  • Type II diabetes usually occurs in older and/or obese people who do not have to have a family history of diabetes. Eighty percent of Type II diabetics are overweight, and juvenile diabetes is growing at alarming rates.
  • Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women.

Of the millions of Americans with diabetes, it is amazing that the preventable form of Type II diabetes makes up an overwhelming majority of the cases. This is extremely serious because diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., totaling more than 70,000 people every year and costing in excess of $132 billion annually. Diabetics should see their doctor several times a year and receive regular eye and feet examinations; blindness and amputations of the lower limbs are common effects of the disease.

What can you do to avoid diabetes? The Stew Smith answer is quite simple: Get off your butt, start moving more, eat less sugary foods and drink fewer sugary sodas. Eat less from the drive-thru and more from the garden. Check out the many websites on diabetes you can find with a Google search. You can find many articles in the Stew Smith article archive at, which can help you with ideas to get started. Some of the articles that apply include:

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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