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Book and Media Reviews
December 8, 2010

Diabetes Rising: How a Rare Disease Became a Modern Pandemic, and What to Do About It

JAMA. 2010;304(22):2539. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1829

Dan Hurley, an investigative reporter and frequent contributor to the New York Times, takes on the task of analyzing the diabetes epidemic and tries to bring new insights to this problem. He discusses the disease and its increased incidence in the first section, examines the causes in the second section, and concludes with possible approaches to this problem in the final section.

The first section presents important history of diabetes in a format that the lay reader will find approachable. In the fashion of an investigative journalist, Hurley builds an argument for a pandemic as he tells the reader how, despite insulin and an enormous variety of drugs, the incidence of the disease, both type 1 and type 2, continues to increase and the death toll continues to mount. Hurley discusses 2 communities. The first is a wealthy community outside of Boston, where an outbreak of type 1 diabetes has left the community outraged. The second is Logan County, West Virginia, which has the highest rate of diabetes in the entire country: 14.8% of everyone older than 20 years in that county has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The local Walmart sells more snack cakes than any other Walmart in the world. Having discussed the pandemic using these 2 communities as examples, Hurley then reviews the trends in diabetes management from loose control to tighter control to looser control again.

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