No time is more urgent than the present to educate people on the risks and treatment options for type 2 diabetes as the epidemic continues to grow. Diabetes now contributes to more than 250,000 deaths per year, while costing the nation more than $300B.
So, as we enter National Diabetes Awareness Month, we thought it would be worthwhile to check in on broad consumer awareness of the disease. To do this, we conducted a survey1 of over 1,000 people to assess their general understanding of type 2 diabetes—the risks, side effects, costs, and treatment options among other things.
Given the growing epidemic, our hypothesis was that people would be largely misinformed. That they would underestimate the risks substantially while casting blame in the direction of people living with T2D rather than on a broken system.
The findings surprised us.
In fact, consumers demonstrated a strong baseline knowledge of T2D pathology. Over 75% of respondents were familiar with the common complications of type 2 diabetes, such as blindness and kidney failure. Nearly 80% of people understood the definition of prediabetes, and over 80% responded correctly when asked if physically fit people can be diagnosed with diabetes (they can).
Most encouragingly, over 60% of respondents believed that type 2 diabetes can be reversed.
There are various interpretations of this data, but our view is a hopeful one. Perhaps on the whole we are becoming more informed on what it means to being living with type 2 diabetes, and that it doesn’t have to be a life sentence as many people are told. Perhaps people are beginning to see that blame shouldn’t be directed at individuals or well-intentioned providers, but rather at an existing care model that is insufficient to combat this deadly disease.
To be sure, ongoing education is needed. After all, our survey also showed that respondents underestimated mortality as well as the $327B economic burden.
Yet, our patients like Kim, Neha, and many others are reminding us of what is possible. Our protocols, combined with provider-led continuous remote care, are changing how we treat diabetes. Behind the scenes, we are seeing how our advancements in machine learning and other technologies are giving our clinicians superpowers that help deliver transformational outcomes for our patients.
At Virta and beyond we’re seeing progress, making us ever more hopeful and committed to our goal of reversing type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025.
1 The survey was conducted online and ran October 4-6, 2018. It sampled 1,039 adult U.S. consumers, general population.