Type 2 diabetes is increasing among Americans at an alarming pace. Researchers have been tracking the number of confirmed cases over the last 26 years, combining data from death certificates and interviews for a population of 600,000 adults.

The accelerated rate of the disease’s occurrence suggests that two out of five average adults in the United States can expect to have type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives.

Over the lengthy course of the research, the lifetime risk of type 2 diabetes for the average American 20-year-old was 20% for men and 27% for women from 1985 to 1989. It rose to a staggering 40% for men and 39% for women in 2000-2011.

The staggering numbers are not exclusive to the United States. Almost every developed country in the world is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of reported cases of type 2 diabetes. While the life expectancy of persons diagnosed with diabetes is increasing, the treatment costs are already overwhelming health systems around the world.

Disease by choice?

The development of type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. In fact, you could even make a case to suggest that developing type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle choice. Proper eating habits, nutritional habits and controlling weight are the cornerstones of preventing the onset of this illness.

Since individual and collective efforts have not been sufficient to reduce the numbers, many researchers and doctors are calling for “dramatic” measures to be taken in developed nations to curb the continuing outbreak of diabetes.

Obesity and poor nutrition are a primary factor in developing the disease. Unfortunately, a one-on-one intervention for 40% of the American population just isn’t plausible (and the idea of a massive public intervention is scary, truthfully). Nevertheless, some health professionals are encouraging widespread intervention on the population as a whole.

In reality, it is nearly ludicrous to suggest that the government can successfully intervene when it caters (no pun intended) to Big Food manufacturers, accommodating one of the most powerful lobbyist organisations on the planet.

Big Food product marketing remains a huge big obstacle when it comes to implementing healthy choices. While some countries are encouraging citizens to improve daily habits, the amount of high-sugar, low-nutrition convenience foods are impeding these efforts due to the extensive marketing budgets available to big brand companies.

Where does the solution begin?

The solution, of course, begins with the individual and his or her nutrition and fitness habits.

It is safe to say that, if 100% of people who already know better simply made wiser eating choices and got regular exercise, the diabetes epidemic would come to a screeching halt over a relatively short period of time.

Big Junk Food sales would plummet. The sugar industrial machine would sputter. Big Pharma medication dependence would fall off. Natural and organic foods would flourish. And all it would take is common folks making better food choices and becoming more active.

Interestingly, you don’t need to be steeped in natural health to understand that you should avoid refined sugar and exercise. Almost everyone with diabetic tendencies already understands this. And everyone knows to eat more veggies.

We’re failing miserably to apply the simple principles that we already understand. This is where I believe the claim that the uprising in preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes is largely a matter of self-sabotage. We’re acting against our own best interests and we know it.

Statements like the following are examples of self-sabotage:

I know I shouldn’t eat this, but it tastes so good!

Yeah, my doctor says I should exercise, but I look at his fat belly and wonder, “who is he?”

Diabetes runs in my family, but I figure I can wait a little longer before I try to prevent it.

Knowing the risks — the horrific scene of foot ulcerations, blindness, heart disease and even leg amputations — millions and millions of people are knowingly indulging in lifestyles that cause immediate malaise and a sure-to-be-grisly death.

Self-sabotage. We know what’s best but we do the opposite.

Self-sabotage is caused by underlying psychological attachments that “program” us to cling to familiar ways of being, even when those ways are detrimental to our well-being. It’s important for all of us to understand this phenomenon and correct it before it’s too late.