It’s Diabetes Alert Day today! We often think that diabetes strikes people who are obese and out of shape, right? Well you’d be wrong. Read below for my summary of the excellent Women’s Health Magazine article on this subject- when it comes to diabetes, you can’t judge a book by its cover!
A Growing Problem in a Younger Population
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 9 adults has diabetes and that number will jump to 1 in 3 by 2050. The face of diabetes is also changing; women are 1.3 times more likely to be hospitalized for a diabetes-related condition and 65 million people age 20 or older are pre-diabetic (up from 57 million in 2007).
The Cause of the Shift
The doctors in the article cited “thin outside, fat inside” (TOFI) as being the main culprit for many young adult diabetes cases. TOFI occurs when someone who looks like they are normal weight and otherwise healthy actually has fat building up under their abdominal organs (this is called “visceral fat”). This can cause inflammatory substances to effect your pancreas and liver. It can also increase your chances of developing an insulin resistance. Here’s a shortlist of the underlying risk factors for TOFI:
- Neglecting exercise & regulating weight solely through food: The article told the story of Corinne, a 30-year old who wasn’t overweight (5’10 and 165lbs) but who skipped breakfast and drank soda for lunch to stay wired. (Does this sound like you?)
- Yo-yo dieting: You want to look great for spring/summer, so every season you crash diet. But each time you lose weight you also lose muscle. Then, when the crash diet ends, you gain the weight back as fat. Often this fat is the visceral fat that puts you at risk for diabetes.
- Stress: Stress in our daily lives increases cortisol production, a hormone that temporarily elevates blood sugar levels. In combination with the other two risk factors above, stress can also increase your chances of becoming (pre)diabetic.
Prevention Through Monitoring
So what can you do? First, know your genetic history. Has anyone in your family been diagnosed with diabetes? Don’t assume the answer is no just because people in your family don’t look overweight. Second, get your blood sugar levels checked when you visit the doctor. Be sure to also request a Type 1 diabetes test as well; since Type 1 diabetes is the autoimmune form of the disease (where your immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas), doctors can check for the antibodies to confirm whether or not you have Type 1.
And finally, eat healthy low sugar foods and exercise! The article states that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that even 30 minutes of brisk walking can cut your odds of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58%. Get healthy and get moving! -CFC
***Does anyone you know/love need to know this information? Spread the word & check out the full Women’s Health Mag article here! Did any of these risk factors hit home with you?***