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Type 1 Diabetes Rising

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/01/diabetes-rising/

This is a very interesting article about type 1 diabetes (the autoimmune disease that begins in childhood and used to be called juvenile-onset diabetes) is on the rise all around the globe, rising at a rapid rate of 3-5% a year. The puzzle is that no one can seem to figure out why.

Researchers have several theories, and the most important observation is that this is a global increase, therefore whatever is driving these rates up is worldwide. Researchers suggest something environmental- “So investigators have had to look for influences that stretch globally and consider the possibility that different factors may be more important in some regions than in others.”

One of the prominent explanations is obesity. I agree with this explanation, because it would coincide with trends of higher obesity rates across the world every year. With these obesity rates increasing, and type 1 diabetes also increasing, the trends can be correlated.

The author of this article ends the article by saying that he hopes that we can find a “cure” for type 1 diabetes before this trend shoots up even further and becomes out of control. I say that we already have found a “cure”- or at least a prevention. Eating right and keeping your body healthy and balanced has shown to stabilize insulin levels to where shots are not even needed. There are numerous case studies where people who already have diabetes have made large lifestyle changes to foods excluding any kind of saturated fats, artificial flavors, and trans fats.

Should people start being more conscious of what they eat?

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  1. MTDM
    February 3, 2012 at 3:21 am

    I think America has a serious problem with overeating, eating unhealthy foods, and not getting enough exercise. Unfortunately, the fast food chains offering meals for under three dollars isn’t exactly helping. I don’t have any clue as to what it’s like to be responsible for feeding a whole family, or living paycheck to paycheck. However, I do understand that when faced with the choice to feed my family McDonalds, or not feed them at all, I would choose the fast food. Healthy, organic, and nutritious options are usually much more expensive. Prices of fresh fruits and veggies are high, and not everyone can afford the organic “Whole Foods” lifestyle.

    On the other hand, parents do need to take more initiative in encouraging their children to make healthier choices, and to be more active. I remember as a child, when I came from school my brother and I would play outside sometimes until dinner, and then do our homework after. Physical health and having fun is just as important as completing your nightly math problems. When kids see their parents sitting on the couch watching TV all day, they start to think that’s what’s normal, or acceptable. We our are parent’s children, and as much as we may hate to say it, who we all are is almost certain to be a fairly close replica of our parents. Parent’s of America need to step up to the plate, and secure a healthier future for their children, and for generations to come.

  2. February 5, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I have type 2 diabetes, which is different than type 1 primarily in that it’s largely influenced by genetics. Having struggled all my life with diabetes, I can say from experience that THE most important thing to do in order to prevent diabetes is eating healthy. I was really happy to see your post because I connected with it immediately, and of course have many opinions on the matter.

    I do not know if there will ever be a time in my life where I don’t have to take meds, check my blood sugar levels daily, and give myself insulin shots. Nor do I know (although I hope) if there ever will be a cure for diabetes. But what I do know is this: my blood sugar level can easily shoot up past the 200s if I have a milkshake. In my daily life (and yours of course) our blood sugar levels, to be healthiest, need to be below 125. So don’t have a milkshake. It’s all about making healthy choices and thinking what will be good for your body in the long-run.

    While I really love/am a little obsessed with food in general, one concept I have tried to stick close to is that “food is fuel.” Eating gives us energy so we can focus on things like writing these posts, and we want only good fuel in our bodies to sustain us. I believe that if more people agreed with and worked to achieve that “food is fuel,” obesity rates would decrease (slowly) and so would type 1 diabetes.

  3. February 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I recently saw a documentary on the food industry in USA. One of the biggest problem is the fact that fast foods are a lot cheaper than actually cooking your own meal. Right now most of us are in university so it is natural for some of us to search for cheaper food. For example, the dollar menu in McDonald is the nicest deal for students like me. The documentary mentioned that the government pays for the meat in any other fast food.

    Now we all now that eating fast food is not the best meal plan, however, there are plenty people who choose to pay 1 dollar instead of 7 dollar.
    It is not about simply about being conscious of what we eat, but to be able to afford the good food.

    http://www.foodincmovie.com/

  4. February 5, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I’m skeptical regarding lexicory’s claim. First, basic logic dictates that correlation DOES NOT mean causation. In other words, just because two events are occurring at once, doesn’t mean that one event necessarily causes the other. So, just because global obesity rates are rising, doesn’t mean that a rise in Type 1 Diabetes is related. You’re just using faulty logic. Now, I know everyone thinks that obesity is related to Type 1 Diabetes, but Type 1 is genetic. So, while I’m by no means an expert on the matter, I’m skeptical of the idea that obesity causes genetic mutations. I just don’t see how that would work. Prove me wrong.

    Here’s a better explanation: perhaps Type 1 Diabetes is just being diagnosed more. I know very little about diabetes, but I know this is the case with autism. With autism, people are just being recognized more (whereas before, only people with more extreme cases of autism were diagnosed with it). With autism, everyone’s saying what you’re saying: that it must be environmental causes. But it’s not; our standards have just lowered. So, who’s to say it’s not the same case with Type 1 Diabetes?

    I might be wrong on both accounts! So, anybody, let me know if you disagree. Debate will show the truth.

  5. Leila Mafoud
    February 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Although I do agree with the aforementioned quote, “correlation DOES NOT mean causation”, in this case I believe that there is definitely a noteworthy trend between the dietary changes of the average person to include more saturated fats, chemicals, and artificial sweeteners and the rise in the rate of Type I Diabetes. Genetics has the ability to change over time, meaning that the conditions that we inherit can have fairly recently manifested themselves in the human body. The shift in diets from simple to complex foods has undoubtedly caused the body to develop new reactions . Given that a mother passes food and nutrients, both good and bad, to the fetus it seems completely plausible that too much of the wrong kinds of food can hinder it’s health.

  6. ProfMyers
    February 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    This is a great topic to bring up in this class, because the relationships between weight, food, health, disease, personal responsibility, systemic factors, cultural narratives, and scientific research are pretty complicated and troubling in many ways. lexicory says, “Should people start being more conscious of what they eat?”; MTDM says, “When kids see their parents sitting on the couch watching TV all day, they start to think that’s what’s normal, or acceptable.” Both of these comments suggest a frame of personal responsibility for thinking about diet and weight. This has been a dominant cultural narrative in the US for some time, and it goes like this:

    Fat people are fat because they eat too much, and they eat too much because they are lazy, gross, or have no self control. If they could learn self control, eat better, and work out, they wouldn’t be fat. Because they are fat, they are also unhealthy. This not only harms the fat individual, but the larger society who are forced to, among other things, pay higher insurance premiums.

    The evidence is against almost every component in this narrative! Here’s a link to just one study: http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v10/n6/abs/nm0604-563.html

    The abstract states: “Obese people, who are already subject to adverse health effects, are additionally victimized by a social stigma predicated on the Hippocratic nostrum that weight can be controlled by ‘deciding’ to eat less and exercise more. This simplistic notion is at odds with substantial scientific evidence illuminating a precise and powerful biologic system that maintains body weight within a relatively narrow range. Voluntary efforts to reduce weight are resisted by potent compensatory biologic responses.”

    There was also a recent article in the NYTimes on the difficulty of losing weight once gained.

    So: there’s a large body of evidence that it isn’t true that fat people can lose weight by eating less and exercising more.

    There’s also a growing body of evidence that fat isn’t particularly unhealthy–and that “overweight” according to many BMI charts is associated with /lower/ health risks and risk of death than “normal” or “underweight” BMI designations.

    Next: There’s also a growing discussion in sociological and cultural studies that argues that “personal responsibility” models obscure systemic factors that lead to obesity. Above, Plankton noted the relative cheapness of fast food, and economics are a major factor in weight. Poverty and BMI correlate quite closely, with lower incomes reflecting higher BMI. Some reasons for this: individuals with lower incomes are more likely to live in food deserts and rely on convenience stores and fast food restaurants for meals. Individuals with lower incomes are more likely to live in areas where outdoor activities are unsafe, or where there is no access to recreational spaces. Individuals with lower incomes are less likely to be able to afford gym memberships, and are more likely to be working multiple jobs and/or traveling long distances to work, leaving less time for recreational activity outside of work. Disabled persons are more likely to have low incomes, and disability is a leading cause of weight gain. I just saw a recent study that suggested children of women who experience food instability during pregnancy have higher BMIs throughout their lives–which suggests that if your mom goes hungry, your body may be cued to lower metabolism and conserve energy /throughout your entire life/.

    And this doesn’t even start to think about /disordered/ eating–in all its myriad manifestations–and the way that disordered eating intersects with both physical and mental health!

    All of this is in service of suggesting that our cultural narratives (personal responsibility; fat as a product of weak character) in this area are still dominating how we think about this, and science is still struggling to catch up–and was long held back by those same cultural narratives.

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