Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to create and/or use insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that is the key to turning sugars into energy. As a result, people with diabetes suffer from abnormally high levels of blood sugar, which over time can lead to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, vision loss, and nerve damage, potentially leading to disability or premature death. Over 420 million people worldwide are living with this disease, and more people die of diabetes-related diseases than of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
Diabetes thus ranks as one of our most pressing global public health challenges, but experts in this field have made important progress in understanding the impacts of this condition and how it can be treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 90% of people suffering from this illness have type 2 diabetes, which develops over many years and can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and exercise. Thus, nutrition and education have a crucial role to play in managing diabetes impacts.
Given the prevalence of this chronic disease, an understanding of diabetes is important for many careers in medicine and public health. Epidemiologists and other public health experts play an invaluable role in improving our understanding of what causes diabetes, how social, economic, and environmental factors can influence genetic risk factors, and communicating to the public the dangers of this condition and how it can be treated.
Nutritionists also have a particularly important role to play in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, as dietary changes can play a major role in preventing or delaying additional health complications that can accompany this condition. They may work at clinics and hospitals or in their own private practices to advise patients suffering from diabetes or other conditions on what to eat in order to meet their specific health needs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dieticians and nutritionists typically have at least a bachelor’s degree and often state licensing to practice, and they earned a median annual salary of $61,270 in 2019.
Yes! Coursera offers opportunities to learn remotely about a wide range of topics in medicine and public health, including courses about diabetes. You can learn about this global health challenge from top-ranked universities from around the world, including Imperial College London, University of Copenhagen, and University of Sydney. You can also learn how public health experts use data science for modelling the spread of diabetes and other diseases by completing step-by-step tutorials alongside experienced instructors as part of Coursera’s Guided Projects.
Some of the skills or experience you may already need to have to study diabetes include the ability to understand the basics of chronic illnesses, what they are, and the general ways they can be treated and managed. If you have worked in a health care setting in any capacity, you may also have some of the skills necessary to learn about diabetes and its management. If you have any experience in the field of dietary nutrition, you may have some skills needed to learn about diabetes. Skills in understanding statistics and predictions can also be useful for learning about diabetes and how it affects populations.
Learning about diabetes may be right for you if you want to be part of the solution to this growing global health problem that affects more than 420 million people worldwide. It may benefit you to study diabetes if you are interested in learning the recent research in the field of prevention and treatment of the disease as well as having a broader understanding of the situation in different communities across the world where diabetes threatens public health. If you are interested in learning how to detect or predict various forms of diabetes in certain populations or communities, you may benefit from learning the topic.
The topics you can study that are related to diabetes can include subjects in the health and wellness fields, such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, which are all therapeutic interventions in chronic illness and treatment. Another major topic related to diabetes that you can study would be gastronomy and nutrition since cooking and food greatly impact the prevention and management of diabetes. The science of exercise would be another related topic to diabetes because you can learn scientific evidence for the health benefits of exercise and how it prevents and treats diseases such as diabetes. In addition, studying the directly related topic of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is a growing global problem affecting up to 25% of people worldwide, will also be worthwhile in your studies about diabetes.
The types of places that hire people who have studied diabetes include health care facilities and clinics, hospitals, and community agencies that deal with the health needs of populations that cannot access care. Places that conduct health care research, including clinical labs, may also hire people who have studied diabetes.
This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.