Reviewed by Louise Chang on August 11, 2009

Sources

American Diabetes Association, CDC Diabetes Public Health Resource, WebMD Medical Reference from "The Diabetes Sourcebook".

© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

WebMD Archive

Video Transcript

Narrator: Jeff Howard begins his day like most of us...with coffee and breakfast. But like more and more Americans, there's something he has to check before he can eat-- his blood sugar. Jeff has Type Two diabetes. His body has trouble using insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. With the rise of obesity in America, Type Two diabetes is becoming a national epidemic. The CDC says 21 million Americans have it, another 41 million are at risk. Left unchecked, it can be fatal. Managed properly, it can be controlled.

Jeff Howard : If a diabetic will learn--if they will just get the right encouragement-- the dietary planning and exercise program that they have may very well cause them to live longer and healthier lives than they would have if they'd never had diabetes.

Narrator: Jeff was diagnosed at age 40. But instead of focusing on his disease, he ignored it. After all, he didn't feel sick...

Jeff Howard : I tended to think I was bullet proof and invisible and those people who had complications from diabetes were somebody else.

Narrator: Over the last twenty years, Jeff has watched his body slowly disintegrate. Circulatory problems have cost him part of his vision, and caused nerve and bony damage to his left foot...

: Oww! Ahh

Narrator: And he's concerned about his heart—more than two thirds of people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke.

Jeff Howard : It is an insidious disease that quietly consumes the human body to the point where you can't walk, can't see, can't function and ultimately can't live. So pay attention. Learn everything you can. Get some help and some support. But do it early on when you first discover you're a diabetic, before the damage insidiously takes over and it gets to the point where it's too late.

Narrator: Jeff hopes it is not too late. Learn how he's taking charge of his disease in our next segment. For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte.