By Heather and Dr Harry
With the rise in obesity has come a rise in harmful health consequences such as type 2 diabetes. These two conditions go together in so many cases that we are realistically facing a 'diabesity' epidemic. The scary thing is that diabetes can be a silent illness - the symptoms don't really shout out 'diabetes!' - and by the time you realise it, it's too late to reverse the damage to your body. But don't despair. The good news is that diabetes is simple to diagnose, and even modest amounts of physical activity can really improve the lot for the person with diabetes.
So, what is type 2 diabetes? If you have diabetes, you have too much sugar in your blood. Type 2 diabetes affects overweight and obese people, young and old. It is different from type 1 diabetes, which generally starts in teenagers or in early adulthood (we will not talk about type 1 diabetes, since it is not associated with being overweight).
Blood sugar can be measured in two ways: directly and indirectly.
The direct measurement is straightforward - you get a blood sample and measure the amount of sugar (more specifically, the sugar glucose). The result tells you the blood sugar level at that particular moment in time.
The indirect measurement is again a blood test. But the result gives you an indication of the average amount of sugar that was in your blood over the last 3 months! It's a kind of long-term check of sugar control and is called the HbA1c test.
Why are blood sugar levels high in type 2 diabetes? After a meal, your food is broken down into basic units including sugars such as glucose. Sugar is supposed to be taken out of the blood stream and into the growing tissues or organs by insulin. Insulin production is meant to rise when blood sugar rises and fall when blood sugar falls.
People with type 2 diabetes:
If you have any concerns, consult your healthcare provider!
What is the lifestyle of a person with type 2 diabetes like? To control the condition a diabetic person has to:
A pre-diabetic state can even be reversed by taking action to remedy the overweight or obese contribution to the insulin resistance. That has got to be the silver lining to that particular cloud.
Are there any other risks associated with having diabetes or a high HbA1c? Unfortunately, yes. The risk of developing one or more of the following problems rises if you have type 2 diabetes:
If you successfully manage to lose weight and are allowed to come off medication, you have to maintain that weight to stay of the meds. If you become obese again it is likely that problems in managing your blood sugar will recur.
Inspiration: This article was inspired by a blog written by Dan Hon. He was told that he was pre-diabetic but according to his own account, he thought the doctors were wrong. In January 2012, a couple of years after the warning, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He's upset with himself for not listening to the good advice of his doctors and has since becoming an exercise fanatic but of course that won't cure the diabetes. He's currently a fan of tracking health data. A big thank you to the Fat Creep™ fanatic, Styles J, that led us to this blog.
Sources: patient.co.uk, diabetes.com and diabetes.org.uk
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