Educate. Empower. Prevent.

Division of the J. Moss Foundation

Understanding Diabetes

By Marlayna Bollinger, Excutive Director

-A mom on a mission to prevent type 2 diabetes and staunch believer that one person can make difference. 

“A little touch of sugar”, yeah right! I’m not sure how this term for diabetes ever came into existence, but I wish it would go away. The fact of the matter is that diabetes is anything but little. Misunderstood, yes!  I think that if we took the time to understand what diabetes really is and isn’t, we’d be better equipped to fight it. To begin, let’s look at the real “big picture” of what some are treating as a “little problem”.


As of 2012, 105 million people in the U.S  have or are at risk of developing diabetes. To put that in perspective, that is more than the population of  New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Arkansas combined.  It’s projected that in the near future, 600 million people worldwide will have diabetes.

So, I think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone knows somebody with diabetes, it’s just that you, or they for that matter, may not know it yet.

Diabetes is the disease that connects us all, but if we don’t do something about it, it can also cause our downfall.  

From generation to generation, the hope is that we can leave a better and brighter future for our children than we had.  Now, normally that vision includes a great job, family, and an enhanced quality of life. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that my vision needs to include something that I’d normally take for granted- a health care system.

Our health is truly our greatest possession, so it is essential to have a system in place to preserve it. Right now, diabetes and prediabetes cost our country more than $214 billion a year. Yep, a year! That is more than we spend on AIDS and all forms of cancer combined.  This price tag is now threatening to bankrupt our entire healthcare system.

 Dr. Oz said it best when he said, ” I don’t care what system you happen to prefer. I don’t care what party you are.  If we don’t fix the problem of diabetes in the country, we will bankrupt our future ability to pay for healthcare in the nation. Period. “

One of the questions I most commonly receive is, “Why does diabetes cost so much? I mean, we’re just talking some blood sugar strips, meters, and insulin. Right?”  Ummm, not so much. For some, that is just the beginning. If diabetes is not controlled, it can wreck havoc in the body.


The picture below links to a video that Dr. Oz did, back in 2010, to explain diabetes and how it affects the body. Although a few of the stats are outdated, the video  does a wonderful job of showing the connection between food, insulin, diabetes, and heart attacks. It’s one of the best videos I’ve seen that really gives you inside look at diabetes.

Click to watch the video



I think if diabetes were to have any label, it should be –  misunderstood.

Countless myths about diabetes spread like vicious rumors in our society. These inaccuracies just perpetuate the problem, by instilling shame and embarrassment among those at-risk and living with diabetes. Somehow diabetes has been mislabeled as being a disease for fat, lazy, sugarholics.

Sadly, these negative stereotypes have caused a rift in the diabetes community, mainly because nobody wants to be labeled as having deserved their disease. First of all, nobody deserves diabetes. Secondly, ostracizing a person for something that scientists still don’t completely understand, is not only counterproductive, it’s also hurtful.

Somehow, the fact that diabetes is 90% preventable, has been twisted from being great news, which instills hope among those ready to fend off diabetes, to becoming justification for wagging a finger and pointing blame for a person’s lifestyle choices.

If we want to make a difference, and create a better future for our children, we should stop pointing fingers and start extending a helping hand.

I believe, that when it comes to preventing diabetes, pills are like temporary band aids for a problem that really needs a PERSONal solution. Yes, diabetes is BIG problem, but we can all be a part of the solution by being compassionate, providing encouragement and support to those trying to make positive changes, and creating a community that supports living a healthy lifestyle.


There are a few things I wish everybody knew about diabetes and diabetes prevention.

1) Type 2 diabetes is preventable, but that doesn’t mean you did something wrong if you ended up getting diabetes. In fact, 90% of the 79 million people with  prediabetes don’t even know they are at-risk.  It’s hard to fight something you don’t know you have. Even if a person did know they were at-risk, they may not have the resources needed to help them prevent diabetes.

2)  Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes. Yet two factors are important in both. You inherit a predisposition to the disease then something in your environment triggers itGenes alone are not enough.

The environmental triggers for type 1 may include weather, a virus, and early diet.  Type 1 diabetes is less common in people who were breastfed and in those who first ate solid foods at later ages.

We usually hear a lot about genetics in reference to type 1 diabetes, but believe it or not, type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to family history and lineage than type 1.

If a type 2 diabetic  has a family history of type 2 diabetes, it may be difficult to figure out whether their diabetes is due to lifestyle factors or genetic susceptibility.  Just like with type 1, genes are not enough.  Type 2 diabetes is triggered by lifestyle choices. {Learn more about diabetes and genetics.}

Please keep in mind that these lifestyle choices can also be triggered by a person’s environment. Consider this, stress, grief, depression, some medical conditions, and homelessness are just some of the things that can lead to weight gain and increase a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes.  Weight is often just a symptom of a much greater problem, so we should show less judgement and more compassion for those struggling to maintain their health.

3) There are a lot of differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but there are also quite a few similarities. You can get both types of diabetes as a child, or as an adult. Some  people with type 2, and all with type 1, will use insulin. Not only can people with type 1 and type 2 eat sugar, but their recommended “diet” is the same healthy plan that is recommended for all people.

I could go on and on about the myths about type 1 and type 2 diabetes,  but I’d rather hear from you. What other myths would you like to see dispelled? Please tell us in the comments below!


Our non-profit organization is dedicated to helping others prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, or feel that you may be at-risk, we’d like to help. Whether you have specific questions, are looking for a little guidance, or are in need of ongoing nutrition counseling and support,  we can provide you with what you need to fend off diabetes.  

Just submit a comment below (it will NOT be visible to the public) and somebody will contact you shortly to schedule  your appointment to speak with a nutrition counselor (free).

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