So, What Are You Afraid Of?

by DavalosMcCormack on October 29, 2008

So, what are the odds that one day you’ll be in a plane that gets hit by lightning, crashes into a mountain in a ball of flames or into the ocean where everyone drowns except for you because just before that happens you are eaten by a shark!

Scary right? Realistic, not really. Yet a new survey shows that is what most Americans fear. OK, probably not all at the same time but the new survey found that 29 percent of Americans aged 18 and older said getting into an accident was the scariest thing to them.

Here’s how the numbers broke down:
6 percent were afraid of plane crashes
5 percent feared being struck by lightning
3 percent feared a car accident
2 percent feared drowning or fire.

The second biggest category of fearful things was being attacked by an animal such as a shark ( 4 percent) or insect, such as a spider (8 percent)

But while those are all possibilites, if rather remote ones, very few people said they were afraid of health problems, and of those who did only 3 percent picked out diabetes as the one they were afraid of.

Considering that 24 million Americans have the disease, and that one million new cases are diagnosed every year, you might think more people would be afraid of something they have a very real possibility of getting.

So why the disconnect? Why are more people afraid of something that is almost certain not to affect them, but not afraid of something that could very easily affect them? That’s something the American Diabetes Association, which commissioned the study, is trying to answer.

In a news release accompanying the study, Ann Albright, PhD., RD, of the American Diabetes Association, said “Unfortunately, people don’t seem to take diabetes seriously and they don’t seem to realize that diabetes – if left untreated or poorly treated – can be a very scary disease.”

Diabetes is on the rise in America, due in no small part to the rise in the number of people who are overweight or obese. It’s consequences can be devestating, from blindness to kidney failure, amputation of limbs, even death.

This is not some abstract notion. Both my grandmother and aunt died of complications from diabetes. For the last year or so of her life my aunt was in a wheelchair after having both legs amputated because of the disease. It’s nasty stuff.

Perhaps part of the problem is that those extremes can take years to reach so, unlike cancer, many people do not think of diabetes as life-threatening.

But long before the disease reaches the life-threatening phase it can have an enormous impact on your quality of life. Imagine having to stop every hour to make sure your blood sugar was under control. Imagine having to think about every single thing you ate or drank. Imagine having to take injections of insulin several times daily. How can those things not impair the quality of your life.

So next time someone asks you what you are afraid of, forget ghosts and spiders and the IRS. Name something you really could get, diabetes.

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