Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

MO Health Experts: 'Portion Distortion' One of Many Causes of Diabetes Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 18 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes.  The CDC estimates another 7 million people have diabetes and just don’t know it yet.  These figures have nearly doubled since 1995.  KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann speaks with local experts to learn more about this increasing epidemic.

November is National Diabetes Month.  With such a drastic increase in the prevalence of the disease over the last decade, experts are looking closely at causes, treatments, and education. Dr. Rani Radhamma is with Mercy Healthcare, and says that lifestyle choices are one of the biggest contributing factors.

“Basically I want to start by saying almost 8 percent of our U.S. population is already affected by diabetes. And it’s increasing time after time.  First and foremost would be our eating habits and lack of exercise,” Radhamma says.

Radhamma says other risk factors include a family history of diabetes, being overweight, and having other co-existing conditions like hypertension or pancreatitis. 

“The magnitude of the problem is if you have diabetes today, if that got diagnosed today, it already has an asymptomatic period of almost 5 years.  And that period is enough time to give all the micro vascular problems, starting with eye problems,” says Radhamma.

Radhamma explains that in addition to eye problems, kidney and nerve problems are other micro vascular complications associated with diabetes.  She adds that diabetes patients have a 30 percent increased risk of cardiovascular complications. 

Kathy Wagner was diagnosed with diabetes just four months ago, and says it came as a complete surprise.  Wagner says that although she has a family history of diabetes, she had no indication that anything was wrong until she went to the doctor for an infection that wouldn’t clear up.  She says living with diabetes has been an adjustment.

“I have always been a chocolate eater. I love candy of any shape, size, you know.  I have always eaten anything and everything I wanted, whenever I wanted it, and never had a problem.”

Wagner says that although she was not happy with the diagnosis, she says it was not as traumatic as the diagnosis of breast cancer she had received years ago.

“You can live with diabetes.  It doesn’t have to stop your world as you know it.  You just need to make better choices,” says Wagner.

Breanna Tyger is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at Jordan Valley Community Health Center.  Both she and Dr. Radhamma agree that a healthy diet and proper exercise are the keys to managing diabetes successfully.  Tyger says our society’s increased dependence on technology which makes us less active, and an increasingly busy lifestyle that leads to a poor diet are both to blame.  

“Right now at Jordan Valley we are partnering with the YMCA doing the diabetes prevention program. And that program incorporates education on diet and healthy choices on fat and calories.  What a healthy weight is and how to incorporate that into a daily lifestyle as well as education on exercise, and they have access to the gym,” Tyger says. 

Tyger adds that managing diabetes around the holiday season can be stressful for patients.  Her advice is to eat smaller portions of those favorite holiday foods, bring healthy alternatives to a get-together, and closely monitor blood sugar levels. She adds that above all don’t stress, and to “control your diabetes, don’t let it control you.”

For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann



TAG:  For more information about the Feel Better Program and other diabetes educational opportunities you can call Jordan Valley Community Health Center at: 831-0150.

Click here for a link to the CDC