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A WEIGHTY matter

OBESITY A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE SPIKE IN TYPE 2 DIABETES

BY PETE ALFANO

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 42.4% of Americans are obese, based on their Body Mass Index (BMI), a formula that is calculated using height and weight. That means their BMI is 30 or above. And going hand-in-hand with obesity is the rapid increase of Type 2 diabetes. Health organizations estimate that 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, and 20% of them don’t even know it.

There are numerous risks associated with diabetes, including heart disease, strokes, hypertension, kidney disease, diabetic neuropathy, eye disease, gum disease, and, for pregnant women, gestational diabetes, which can imperil the health of the mother and unborn child. While Americans are often cited for being gluttonous, the World Health Organization says diabetes has also become a global problem.

TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2 DIABETES

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 often has a genetic component and occurs when a person’s immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. That defect is present at birth and manifests itself in adolescence.

In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes less insulin, usually because of poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. The result is that blood glucose levels, also called blood sugar, are above normal. People who are overweight, consume too much sugar, and are sedentary are at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include increased thirst and urination, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and blurred vision. But what makes the disease more concerning is that many people don’t have any symptoms. An annual physical with bloodwork will enable your primary care physician to monitor your glucose level and know whether you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

The thing to remember is that Type 2 diabetes can be controlled and sometimes reversed. A healthy weight-loss plan, moderate exercise, and better overall nutrition can keep glucose levels normal. Type 2 diabetics don’t have to take insulin injections unless their condition worsens over time. Oral medications can also be taken to help manage the disease.

And here is some good news. Type 2 diabetics don’t have to spend the rest of their lives subsisting on kale, bamboo shoots, and celery. The golden rule of nutrition applies — everything in moderation. This means you can have a glass of wine, a cookie or two, that candy bar you crave, and fruit as long as you consume them sensibly and not make them a daily part of your diet.

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