A shocking new prediction about diabetes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Americans are headed for a health epidemic.
Health experts said the already rising number of diabetes cases here in the U.S. could double, or even triple, in the next 40 years.
Financially, the cost of diabetes treatment is $174 billion a year. Physically, the disease is the leading cause of adult blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation.
Advanced diabetes caused Kimberly Smith's kidneys to fail, and her doctors at the Cleveland Clinic performed 38 surgical procedures to administer dialysis.
Eventually Jason Evans, a fellow church member, stepped in
"He told me then that he was going to give me a kidney, and when he told me that I just, I was just so overwhelmed that I started crying," Smith recalled.
There are still many other diabetic patients waiting for transplants, and the list could get even longer, with the CDC's latest warning.
One in 10 adults have Type 2 diabetes today, but one in three could have the blood sugar disorder in just 40 years.
"Diabetes is the seventh leading killer in this country, and it accounts for $170 billion dollars in health care expenditures," former CDC Director Richard Besser said.
There are some positive reasons why cases of diabetes are increasing.
They include people are living longer with the disease because of good control of their blood sugar, diabetes medications, and doctors diagnosing the problem earlier.
"Because the population is getting older, because the population, in general, is obese and because the demographics of the population, the racial makeup is changing, the rate of diabetes is going to go up dramatically," Dr. Besser said.
CDC researchers warn the number of diabetics could skyrocket by 2050 if nothing is done to improve Americans' health habits.
Their prediction comes just months after two University of Washington professors studied cases of diabetes in more than 4,000 adults ages 65 and older.
"We found it surprising that the relationship between adiposity, or body fat and diabetes was so strong among older adults," professor Mary Biggs, PhD., said.
Still, proper diet and physical activity can reduce the risk of diabetes and help to control the condition in people with the diabetes.
So experts say there are at least two things to take away from this health warning.
First, take steps to prevent diabetes where it is feasible. And secondly, for those already diagnosed, it is critical they make changes to improve their diets and exercise.