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For many diabetics, the frequency of pricking their finger to test their blood sugar can be painful, and a diligent record of the trends can be time-consuming and inconvenient.

Joellen Beck has been testing herself for almost 20 years and with a baby on the way, monitoring her health is her top priority,

"What I used to do is check frequently throughout the day and then get up every two hours throughout the night," said Joellen.

But now Joellen uses the GlucoWatch: the only FDA approved product that can give blood sugar readings over a 12-hour period to adult diabetics. It can check it as she sleeps and an alarm rings when her levels are too low or too high. The best part is, there's no need to draw blood.

"It draws tissue fluid out. Tissue fluid has blood sugar in it," said Wendy Kushion, Sparrow Regional Diabetes Center.

Some users say there are drawbacks to the GlucoWatch. The Watch costs $600, and the autosensors have to be changed every 12 hours and cost four dollars apiece. Many hope insurance companies will pick up the cost.

Joellen says the Watch is quite large and there's a three-hour time period where the watch calibrates and doesn't take any readings. But she still uses it in conjunction with the blood-glucose monitor as it was not designed to replace traditional methods of glucose testing.

Both Joellen and Wendy agree the GlucoWatch will be the first of many non-invasive devices to make living with diabetes a little easier.

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Who Gets Diabetes?

Diabetes is not contagious. People cannot "catch" it from each other. However, certain factors can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs equally among males and females, but is more common in whites than in nonwhites. Data from the World Health Organization's Multinational Project for Childhood Diabetes indicate that type 1 diabetes is rare in most African, American Indian, and Asian populations.

However, some northern European countries, including Finland and Sweden, have high rates of type 1 diabetes. The reasons for these differences are not known.

Type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, especially in people who are overweight, and occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, and Hispanic Americans.

On average, non-Hispanic African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites of the same age.

Hispanic Americans are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. American Indians have the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Among the Pima Indians living in Arizona, for example, half of all adults have type 2 diabetes.

The prevalence of diabetes in the United States is likely to increase for several reasons.

  • First, a large segment of the population is aging.

  • Also, Hispanic Americans and other minority groups make up the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.

  • Finally, Americans are increasingly overweight and sedentary.

According to recent estimates, the prevalence of diabetes in the United States is predicted to be 8.9 percent of the population by 2025.

Source: (National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse).