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Curbing the diabetes health crisis in America

There’s some troubling news out this week about the rates of pre-diabetes and diabetes in this country.

USA Today reports: “Americans are getting fatter, and older. These converging trends are putting the USA on the path to an alarming health crisis: Nearly half of adults have either pre-diabetes or diabetes, raising their risk of heart attacks, blindness, amputations and cancer.”

WFAA-TV (Channel 8) followed up on that report on Wednesday afternoon. They spoke with Ginny Ives, a registered dietitian at the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center, an affiliate of Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and Baylor Scott & White Health.

She attributes the rising numbers in part to Americans’ increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

“We have more technology, we drive everywhere we go,” she said in the interview. “More fast food, people are trying to eat on the run. So we’ve just gotten heavier over the years.”

Ives acknowledged that there is a genetic component to diabetes, “however, the lifestyle factors that contribute to that genetic predisposition are huge,” she said.

“Explore."

She offered these tips for those at risk of developing diabetes:

  • Get some exercise every day, even it means just walking your dog or sweeping your porch. The goal should be 30 minutes per day, but any little bit helps.
  • Make healthy food choices. Cut out the soda, junk food and all the excess calories. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Develop a weight-loss plan.

As the USA Today story notes, intervention and lifestyle changes can make a dent:

As pre-diabetes rises, experts are pushing for greater awareness and screening. Research shows programs promoting lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by almost 60% – helping save lives and money. Diabetes cost the nation $245 billion in 2013, according to the Alexandria, Va.-based American Diabetes Association.

“We’ve proven (pre-diabetes) is an intervention time,” said Matthew Petersen, the association’s managing director of medical information and professional engagement. “It’s a call to action.”

Pre-diabetics can prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5%-7% of body weight; getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise such as brisk walking; and eating a moderate-calorie, healthy diet, experts say.

Not sure where to start? Join former Dallas Cowboy Everson Walls at the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute’s Healthy Harvest Fun Walk/5K Run & Diabetes Expo on October 25. Walk a little bit each day to prep for the walk and then come out to walk with others at this family friendly event supporting diabetes management and prevention.

About the author

Scott Goldstein
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Scott is a former Dallas newspaper reporter. His father and two brothers are doctors, so healthcare is his family business.

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Curbing the diabetes health crisis in America