Living with diabetes blog

Preventing diabetes: Reduce risk by reducing obesity

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. August 25, 2012

I'm always happy to hear about good developments in diabetes research. I recently read an article in the journal The Lancet about a study by Leigh Perreault at the University of Colorado. Her research showed a significant long-term reduction in diabetes risk when those with prediabetes were able to return to normal blood glucose control (70 to 100 ml/dL or 3.9 to 5.6 mmol/L).

The study included data from the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), which found that participants who lost even a modest amount of weight through diet changes and increased activity reduced their chances of developing diabetes. The DPP study found that the more times participants got their blood glucose in a normal range, the larger the percentage of risk reduction during follow up.

Prevention is key
This research shows us that prevention is key. It's especially important for our youth.

A recently produced HBO documentary, The Weight of the Nation, focused on obesity in the United States. The documentary suggested that we may currently have, "the first generation of children that will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents."

The documentary went on to say that obesity is the biggest threat to the health, welfare and future of the United States. Obesity is a predisposing factor for developing type 2 diabetes. And 18 percent of youth and 30 percent of adults in the US are obese, increasing the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This is disconcerting news, but there's still time to turn this trend around.

Examples of steps being taken to reduce obesity in the United States include:

  • A Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) from the Minnesota Department of Health. This program works to improve health through better nutrition, increased physical activity and decreased tobacco use and exposure. In the Dover-Eyota, Minn., public school district, a farm-to-school program buys produce from local suppliers, such as butcher shops, turkey farmers, bison ranchers, apple orchards and vegetable farmers, to serve healthy meals in this area's lunch programs. The program is a win-win, encouraging healthy eating in schools and benefiting the local economy.
  • SPARK program. Not all states have physical education (PE) requirements in their schools. A team of researchers and educators were funded to create, implement and evaluate new and innovative approaches to this education content and instruction in the "real world." The SPARK PE program was designed and proven to make activity fun and can be used by both physical education specialists and classroom teachers.

    The SPARK PE program increases moderate to vigorous physical activity in students, improves fitness, increases enjoyment of PE, improves teacher instruction and has the potential for sustainable effects.

  • Efforts to get junk food out of schools. These efforts are happening in a variety of ways and aim to get junk food out of schools and start healthy eating programs at the early elementary level.

    And it's not just limited to elementary schools. A Pennsylvania State University study of 228 school food-service directors in that state showed that high school students are surrounded by high-fat, high-sugar foods, and not just in vending machines.

What are your thoughts? What can we do on the home front, and how can we start?

Regards,

Nancy

Aug. 25, 2012