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Diabetes Unavoidable in California? That's Debatable!

In between the political debates and endless commentary about how ridiculous/mean/unfocused (pick one – or more) they are, a few other stories have grabbed headlines recently.  One such article which landed on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, followed by local and network news, was a report of a study that showed 55% of Californians were either diabetic or pre-diabetic. Fifty-five per cent! That’s insane!

It’s important to note, as physicians will tell us, that this study out of UCLA pertains mainly to the epidemic of type 2 diabetes, which is significantly affected by a combination of poor diet and lack of exercise, while type 1 has far less or nothing at all to do with a person’s behavior.

So why, doctors were asked on the air, are Californians getting type 2 diabetes in record numbers? What accounts for this epidemic?  A doctor who was interviewed about the study narrowed it down to just one thing—sugared drinks. Soda, he said, was the biggest culprit. Add to that the lifestyle of Californians—fast and furious—fueled by fast food, (not diet) Coke, Starbucks and the widest variety of pizza outside of New York City, and you’ve got yourself an epidemic.

Although you find some of the country’s most fit people out here in California, both ends of the spectrum can be found at my gym. For every guy pumping iron for hours at a time, you’ll find the ones who are sitting on the weight machines, either watching television or fussing with their phones while the rest of us WAIT!  Makes me nuts.

55% of Californians are diabetic or on the way there

I only wish I could tattoo that 55% headline across my forehead and just go traipsing around town. If I could convince even one person to make changes before diabetes catches up with him, it would be worth it.  I wish someone had knocked some sense into me years before type 2 diabetes got the better of me. I might have avoided the symptoms that have ranged somewhere between mildly annoying and scary as hell.  The numb toes should have been my first clue. By the way, even though my diabetes is officially “in remission,” the numbness continues to spread.  I’ve been told that nerve damage, once it takes hold, may not improve even with stellar blood sugar control.  Thank God for Skechers…but that’s another blog…

Sometimes type 2 diabetes just “happens.” Sometimes we could be nominated for sainthood, stand on our heads and spit nickels and we’d still get it.  But anyone who has any warning at all, those who have been told they’re pre-diabetic or headed in that direction, get into the gym today, resolve to lose any extra weight you’re toting around (even losing 10% of your body weight can make a difference!), learn to eat healthfully, and for God’s sake, no more full-sugar soda!

If you happen to be reading this in sunny California, be part of the 45% of the population who (hopefully) will never have to deal with diabetes.  If you’re reading this elsewhere in the country, go ahead, take us on. Stay fit. Stay healthy. We’re up to the challenge!

See you next time!

 

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