The State of Type 2 Diabetes: When Health Becomes a Full-Time Job

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The State of Type 2 Diabetes: When Health Becomes a Full-Time Job

In a new report generated by Healthline, we can see a deeper understanding of the daily feelings and struggles of people with type 2 diabetes.

If type 2 diabetes isn’t on our minds, it should be. The United States is the developed-world capital of the disease. Close to half of Americans either have type 2 diabetes or its precursor condition, prediabetes. It accounts for 1 of every 7 dollars we spend on healthcare, according to the American Diabetes Association. And it increasingly affects millennials.

Many studies have been done on various aspects of type 2 diabetes: how treatments work, who is most affected, and the roles that diet, exercise, stress, and sleep play. Healthline decided to delve deeper into this world by looking at the day-to-day experiences and feelings of people who live with a condition that never gives them a day off.

How are people with type 2 diabetes managing the condition? Can they afford healthcare and lifestyle changes? How does the diagnosis change their perceptions of themselves and their future? Who helps them? And do the answers to these questions vary among generations? These are key questions that most studies don’t explore as completely as we would like.

To get the answers, Healthline commissioned a survey of more than 1,500 people with type 2 diabetes. We asked millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers to tell us about their perceptions, worries, and experiences. Then, to put our findings in perspective, we talked with individuals living with the condition and medical experts who have experience treating it.

Some people claimed to be thriving with type 2 diabetes, while others said they’re struggling. The vast majority are concerned about serious complications of the condition, such as vision loss or heart attacks. Many people, already busy with careers and families, find it hard to cope with the work of managing the disease — what one specialist called “a full-time job.” Substantial numbers are deeply concerned about whether they will be able to afford the treatments they need.

They have trouble sleeping.

And yet, many people with type 2 diabetes have succeeded in making big changes in their lives — eating better, exercising more — and see their diagnosis as the day they woke up and started paying attention to their health.

Key survey findings

Healthline’s State of Type 2 Diabetes survey investigated the emotional challenges of the condition, identified stark disparities between generations, and explored people’s most pressing concerns.

Here’s a snapshot of the key findings:

Lifestyle challenges and successes

Weighty work

Weight loss is a major challenge. More than two-thirds of those with type 2 diabetes said their current weight negatively affects their health. Nearly half have tried losing weight multiple times, without long-term success. At the same time, more than 40 percent reported rarely exercising hard enough to break a sweat.

A surprising challenge

One of the biggest challenges reported might surprise you: most people with type 2 diabetes — 55 percent — have trouble getting a full night’s sleep.

Success stories

For some people, a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes may feel like a wake-up call to kick start a healthier lifestyle. Many people reported their diagnosis led them to:

  • eat more healthfully (78 percent)
  • manage their weight better (56 percent)
  • drink less alcohol (25 percent)
Read on: The State of Type 2 Diabetes: When Health Becomes a Full-Time Job

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