The rates of diabetes in the population vary in different parts of the world, presumably because of different eating habits. Many doctors cite obesity as an issue, a problem now being examined as a treatable biochemical imbalance. The condition is defined as body weight of 20% or more above average and is a significant contributor to major illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke (Erickson 124). Eating habits include choices of food as well as the amount ingested, and some diets are more likely to produce diabetic conditions than others. A comparison of the rates of diabetes in Europe and Africa can be instructive in this regard.

Rates of diabetes vary throughout Africa, with some countries facing a much greater health crisis than others. Recent reports show that people from Cameroon are at particular risk, while rates throughout Africa are rising at an alarming rate. Thousands of people in Africa face the possibility of foot amputations because of the disease. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), some 194 million people had diabetes in the world in 2003, a figure expected to rise to 333 million by 2025. In sub-Saharan Africa, there are currently about 7 million people with diabetes, a figure that cold rise to 15 million. In Cameroon, the rate of the disease in the population stands at 5%, but this is considered a conservative estimate, with 60% of the incidence of the disease undiagnosed (Atatah paras. 1-8).

The IDF notes that there are two types of diabetes, labeled Type1 and Type 2), with different causes. Both types are related to a hormone called insulin that is produced by the pancreas to facilitate the absorption of blood sugar (glucose) by body cells. Diabetes is a chronic condition occurring when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin produced. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease preventing the body from producing insulin, and it occurs most often in children and young adults at a rate of approximately 5 to 10% of people living with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to make effective use of the insulin that is produced. According to the IDF, "Genetics, obesity, and lack of appropriate diet and physical activity are factors that appear to play a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes" (Atatah para. 11). The disease often has no symptoms or symptoms that are misunderstood. The foot problem stems from changes the disease makes in the nervous system so that feeling may be decreased in the extremities, often accompanied by swelling. Wounds may not heal as they should. In Africa, the increased threat to the feet derives from the fact that many walk barefoot and that they also tend to seek solutions from traditional medicine first, which may leave the sufferer with no relief at all (Atatah paras. 1-15).

Research suggests that the diabetes rate worldwide will double by 2030 to reach 366 million people even if the obesity rate remains stable, but the rate will go even higher if the population does grow more obese, as is expected. One cause of this is the "Western" diet and a lack of exercise. The figures are for Type 2 diabetes, and the greatest increase is expected in the Middle Eastern Crescent, sub-Saharan Africa, and India. ("Diabetes reportedly to double worldwide by 2030" paras. 1-7).…