According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), about half of the adult population in the U.S. has either pre-diabetes or diabetes. Interestingly, reaction to the findings seems to suggest this is a good thing. In an editorial responding to the findings, William H. Herman, M.D., M.P.H., and Amy E. Rothberg, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, note that the results “…provide a glimmer of hope.”
Apparently, this glimmer of hope stems from the study’s findings that despite half of the population being pre-diabetic or diabetic, the numbers are showing that the disease is starting to plateau. It’s this stabilizing of numbers after nearly two decades of seeing them increase, in addition to widespread health and obesity awareness efforts, that are making experts feel warm and fuzzy over this latest discovery.
Not so fast.
Half the nation being pre-diabetic or diabetic is nothing to be proud of
While it’s wonderful that the numbers, which are based on data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, have been shown to be stabilizing rather than growing, the fact remains that half the population is diabetic or pre-diabetic. That’s a point not worthy of expressing excitement over. Not only does it mean that people are walking around in droves with blood sugar issues and related health problems, but it also means that they’re contributing to the weakening of the economy and a disrupted work environment. After all, diabetes is considered a major cause of death and illness in the United States with approximately $245 billion being lost from reduced productivity and increased use of health resources.
More in line with focusing on the severity of this problem, Herman and Rothberg’s editorial points out, “Progress has been made, but expanded and sustained efforts will be required.”
That is the kind of thinking that is needed. Continued efforts to fight the obesity epidemic are necessary; hopefully, this stabilization of numbers doesn’t lead people to think it’s time to back off from instilling the importance of healthy dietary and exercise habits. If anything, to keep these numbers stable and see them decrease, it’s critical that the government and consumers continue to step up to the plate and keep health initiatives moving forward.
Efforts to fight obesity, diabetes must continue amid challenges
Such efforts, according the aforementioned editorial, are outlined as follows:
The shift in cultural attitudes toward obesity, the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) recognition of obesity as a disease, and the increasing focus on societal interventions to address food policy and the built environment are beginning to address some of the broad environmental forces that have contributed to the epidemic of obesity. The effort of the AMA to promote screening, testing, and referral of high-risk patients for diabetes prevention through its Prevent Diabetes STAT program and the CDC’s efforts to increase the availability of diabetes prevention programs, ensure their quality, and promote their use appear to be helping to identify at-risk individuals and provide the infrastructure to support individual behavioral change.
While there are many stories of schools that have swapped pizza and chocolate milk lunches for ones that include vegetables and fruits or workplace efforts whereby employees are encouraged to participate in fitness challenges, there are just as many stories of fast food chains that continue to tempt people of all ages with the likes of double bacon burgers infused with bourbon sauce and oozing mounds of cheese.
Resist junk foods to fight this soda nation mentality and become healthy
We’re still a soda nation, stuffing junk food in our carts and mouths, addicted to food additives and sugar.
Stores continue to lure the masses with clever marketing tricks to get us to buy the unhealthy stuff. Colorful packaging, junk foods disguised as healthy “natural” must-haves, and enticing wording encourage folks to toss bad items in their carts day after day.
There is also the temptation to spend just a little bit more for a mega-sized soda, duping the American population into thinking that getting more ounces of sugary concoctions means they’re stretching their dollar further. In actuality, what’s stretching are our waistlines; more than one-third of Americans are obese. It’s no secret that obesity is linked to health issues, including diabetes. The soda nation mentality continues.
To keep these numbers stable, we must stay educated about what’s good for our health and do our best to eat foods that keep our weight and overall health in check. We must move past a glimmer of hope and work towards making sure healthy initiatives stay in place and permeate mindsets and actions everywhere. A nation where half of its people are diabetic or pre-diabetic and one-third of the population is obese is shameful, and these issues must continue to be addressed.
Jennifer Lea Reynolds
Sources for this article include:
- This common mineral helps lower insulin resistance in people with Type 2 diabetes
- Fatty fish free of environmental pollutants helps prevent Type 2 diabetes: Study
- Lower Type 2 diabetes risk by following a plant-based diet and eating less meat
- Researchers develop a simple eye scan that detects undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes