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Diabetes on the rise

Posted by on in Diabetes
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Every time we turn on the TV, we’re constantly reminded to stay in shape, eat right, and lead a healthy lifestyle. We see commercials for the newest low-calorie foods or shows like the "Biggest Loser."

Yet, many Americans still struggle with their weight and are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Today, an estimated 60 to 70 percent of the U.S. population is overweight, 30 percent is obese and 6 percent is morbidly obese or weighs at least 100 pounds above his or her ideal body weight. In the last two decades, the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes have been the leading causes of poor health in the United States.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

You may have heard of two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas has lost all capacity to produce insulin; this often occurs during youth.

Whereas, Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes in America, usually occurs in overweight adults and it is due to insulin resistance. This means that there is still some insulin present, but it does not have a normal effect on the body because off excess fat tissue. In addition, the pancreas tries to increase insulin production but cannot keep up resulting in a relative insulin deficiency. This is further complicated by increased liver glucose production. The result is a cycle of worsening diabetes and complications.

Why should I care about diabetes?

Today, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in those 20-74 years of age. Additionally, it is the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease, and 60 percent of diabetic patients are affected by neuropathies or nerve damage.

In the United States, diabetes accounts for 50 percent of all non-traumatic amputations due to accelerated lower extremity arterial disease and neuropathy. The risk of cardiovascular complications is 2-to-6 fold greater, and the overall life expectancy is about 7-10 years shorter for a diabetic patient.

Can diabetes be reversed?

A common misconception is that all diabetes is irreversible. In the case of Type 1, this is certainly true, except for those rare instances of spontaneous remission, or after a pancreatic transplant.

But Type 2 diabetes, for the most part, is a lifestyle issue. Remission is achieved in a significant number of people undergoing bariatric surgery, or those managing to lose weight through diet and exercise. Drugs are an important part of treatment, but lifestyle choices are even more important. A person with Type 2 diabetes who reduces his or her weight by 5 to 10 percent can significantly improve glucose levels, sometimes allowing for a reduction or withdrawal of medication.

What can you do to prevent diabetes?

You can prevent diabetes through proper diet and exercise. The American Diabetes Association estimates that by the year 2050, as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes, unless we take steps to prevent it.

If you have diabetes, the physicians at Oak Street Medical are here to help you control it. We will talk with you about an appropriate plan, and can also answer questions if you are trying to prevent diabetes or you are pre-diabetic.

Independent and progressive, Oak Street Medical provides a unique combination of complementary health care services that includes Primary Care, Diabetes and Mental Health, as well as Allergy, Asthma and Immunology through Oregon Allergy Associates.