Wednesday, January 8, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Diabetes and Obesity Matters

“A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” 
                                                                    ---Spanish proverb

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten Americans has diabetes (30.3 million, or 9.4%).  Another 33.9% of U.S. adults aged 18 and older had prediabetes in 2015.  Diabetes is where there is too much sugar in the blood.  

One of the leading risk factors for diabetes is obesity and overweight. Other risk factors are: smoking, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, high cholesterol, and high blood sugars.  Diabetes and obesity are intricately linked and both can be reversed and prevented.  To tackle the childhood obesity epidemic, we must look at the diabetes crisis.  

Most Americans with diabetes have type 2, or adult onset (90-95%).  The remaining 5-10% have type 1, formerly called juvenile diabetes, where the pancreas makes no insulin and the individual is insulin-dependent.  Gestational diabetes occurs when a female is pregnant and develops diabetes during pregnancy; having gestational diabetes increases the girl or woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes sometime later in her life.  Many kids who are overweight or obese are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases such as sleep apnea and bone and joint disorders. It is misleading to call the most common type of diabetes "adult onset" when so many teens are now at risk for developing it due to what that they eat and their physical inactivity.  

Diabetes is preventable.  Yet 7.2 million Americans are undiagnosed (23.8% of people with diabetes).   In round numbers, 1 in 4 Americans with diabetes doesn't know they have it.     

In working with kids who are overweight, I have learned that kids want to be taught how to eat well so they don't get sick.  They didn’t ask for the burden and bullying from carrying an extra 40 or 50 pounds as a result of being fed highly processed foods and having easy access to cheap, sugary drinks. 

Do you have a family member with diabetes?  You can help by starting with small, easy changes.  Begin to look at everything your family consumes that is sweet.  One of the easiest things to do is to eat fresh fruit instead of fruit juice.  Replace sodas and diet sodas with water.  Make most of the sugar you eat NATURAL SUGAR not ADDED SUGAR, such as the high fructose corn syrup found in sodas and fruit juices, even foods we give little thought to such as ketchup.  Added sugars have no nutritional value, they are just empty calories.  Teach your kids the difference. 

Replace that morning donut with a slice of toasted whole grain bread (I like Dave’s Killer Bread, the one in the green package) with some almond butter and sliced organic bananas.   If you do nothing more than start reading all the food labels before throwing things in your grocery cart, look for “high fructose corn syrup” on the ingredients list of the package. Make the very smart decision not to buy or consume ANYTHING that contains high fructose corn syrup. 

Small steps, simple changes, big results.

With love,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder and Wellness Architect
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Photo credit:  Ella Chabot