Not long ago, a friend of mine told me that he had been diagnosed with “the sugar.” He had to explain to me that “the sugar” is slang for type 2 diabetes, which, as it turns out, is what a lot of people call it. In fact, there are so many people with diabetes today that there is an entire lexicon of diabetes-related slang used by people living with the disease.
For a long time, diabetes was considered a rich person’s disease, the kind of thing you got by eating lots of overly indulgent food and not getting enough exercise. But as the global obesity epidemic shows, the disease is now everybody’s problem…and not just in the United States, Canada and the rest of the developed western nations, either. Diabetes is becoming a serious problem across the world. According to recent data from the World Health Organization, one in 10 people across the planet will have diabetes by 2030, thanks in large part to the increasingly common adoption of Western diets and technologies that free people from lives of lots of physical activity.
To get some perspective on this, the United Nations figures there will probably be eight billion people by 2030. That would mean some 700-800 million people dealing with some form of diabetes, but mostly type 2, which is the kind you get predominantly through poor diet and lack of exercise (as well as other factors). While this prospect has raised the question of whether diabetes could become the next AIDS, the question is moot. With numbers like these, diabetes is set to become the next malaria.