The CDC says in the last 20 years, the number of U.S. adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled. It is a potentially life-altering condition that affects nearly 40 million people in the U.S.

But even more startling is the fact that Dr. Donna O’Shea at UnitedHealthcare sees a worsening trend among youth.

“So, we know, first of all, that the risk of childhood obesity is increasing,” she said. “It’s now up to 1 in 5 young people. The number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled in the last 2 decades. So, this is really becoming a significant health problem.”

O’Shea is concerned that the increases could affect human longevity.

“Many people attribute that to the weight changes that we are seeing,” said O’Shea. “Obesity, starting in childhood, of course, and then, of course, getting worse as you become an adult and very high in the adult population. That obesity can affect all different disease states, but significantly diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes is when your body cannot use the insulin it produces, resulting from poor nutrition. It accounts for nearly 95% of all cases.

She recommends staying active and eating a nutritious diet.

“Even when you have diabetes, you need to control those blood sugar surges,” said O’Shea. “For example, you want to be eating healthy proteins such as chicken, fish, or turkey as well as non-starchy fibrous vegetables like broccoli, green beans or carrots, and a moderate amount of carbohydrates.”

Carbs in the food you eat raise those blood sugar levels. The CDC recommends you keep track of how many carbs you eat and set a limit for each meal, as it can help keep your blood sugar levels in your target range. The Mayo Clinic says that a person who eats 2,000 calories a day should be eating about 225 grams of carbs a day.

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