Health Watch -- Diabetes and Obesity (Part 3)

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

When it comes to managing diabetes, you have a lot of control over your own destiny.

A study from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases found that half of all adult American diabetics are obese and that only a fraction have their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol under control. This leaves a large number of diabetics at risk for heart disease and other complications.

Nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. In fact, diabetics have the same risk for a heart attack as people who already have coronary heart disease.

The good news is that you have a lot of control over managing or preventing adult-onset diabetes. There may be genetic factors involved, but lifestyle plays a big part. Obesity and physical inactivity are two key lifestyle factors related to diabetes or to the metabolic syndrome that is a major risk factor and precursor to diabetes. You can decrease your risk for complications by losing weight and getting regular exercise.

Improving your diet is also important. Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, a UT Southwestern nutrition researcher, says a diet rich in fiber from fruits and vegetables can help lower blood sugar and blood lipids. Diabetics are also encouraged to lower their intake of cholesterol and saturated fat.


Feb. 2004