For most products and services, an increase in demand coupled with a lack of supply spells a price hike and a race to the store. It’s why fruits and vegetables cost more and more as summer fades into winter, and why the opposite occurs as winter turns into spring. It’s why lines form outside of electronic stores before the latest versions of varying games, gadgets and software hit the shelves. It’s why fakes – purses, glasses, Ferraris – are so prevalent and popular. And it’s why I just paid 35.00 to fill up my 10-gallon Ford Focus. It’s a pain, but for all of the above, we can cope. When the product is a doctor, however, the same may not be true.
Studies are finding that the number of pediatric endocrinologists in the country is not matching the number of children who need one. There are an estimated nine million obese children in the United States, putting at least that many at risk for diabetes. Approximately 229,249 kids already have the disease (type 1 or type 2), and if the numbers keep with current trends, they will only continue to increase. Meanwhile, there are a limited number of pediatricians who specialize in diabetes. In fact, there is only one for every 290 diabetic children. That’s quite a caseload, particularly if you add the children who don’t yet have diabetes but who are severely at risk. No doctor could handle it and still maintain an adequate level of care.
Does this mean that you should go back to school immediately and become an endocrinologist or if it’s too late for you, push your child into the field? If it’s your dream or his, absolutely! We could definitely use the staff, but if neither of you are bound for medical school, there’s something else you can do: work to prevent diabetes.
There wouldn’t be a shortage of doctors if there weren’t a flood of diagnoses. While some of the prevalence is due to genetics, much is not. The rise in childhood obesity is directly affecting the rise in diabetes. Work to maintain your child’s health. Keep them on a balance, nutritious diet. Encourage them to remain active, exercising and participating in lively games. Monitor their health, teaming up with their doctors to ensure that blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health are all what they should be. Stave off diabetes, and the minimal number of pediatric endocrinologists will be a minimal concern.