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Obesity & diabetes

When the weather gets hot and garments are shed the most prominent visible characteristic of the average British citizen is the size of their waistline.

At the beginning of the 1990’s the world’s diabetic population was estimated at 100 million. By 2010 it will be 200 million. A staggering 100% increase in just 20 years. The main cause of this rise is the obesity that is now on show every summer. As a wealthy nation we eat more and take less exercise and diabetes along with a long list of other ailments, is the price we pay.

The measurement that is used today to determine who is obese, in other words who’s weight is likely to lead to physical problems, is called body mass index (BMI). This is your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in metres. Although not always accurate (bodybuilders can play havoc with this formula) it is still a good indication of your level of risk. Men with a BMI of under 25 and women with a BMI of under 23 are classed as low risk. As this rises to 30 and your risks increase you are classed as overweight. The term obese applies to those with a BMI greater than 30. It’s at this level that your risk of developing diabetes rises rapidly.

We have a hormone in our body called insulin and this controls the level of sugar in our blood. Sugar is an important source of energy to the cells of our body and the levels are automatically controlled by our internal monitoring system. We can get sugar from the food we eat but it can also be produced from the fat stored in our body. If we store too much fat the insulin system can break down and our blood sugar levels go haywire with disastrous consequences. This is diabetes.

There are two versions of diabetes. Type 1 relates to childhood diabetes and the adult version relating to obesity is type 2. Although different both types of diabetes can lead to diseases of the blood vessels, including heart attacks, hardening of the arteries in the legs, numbness and weakness in the hands and feet as the disease attacks the nervous system and eye problems which can lead to blindness.

Type 1 diabetics usually need life-long injections of insulin and diet control. However type 2 can respond to diet and weight loss alone.

However that is easier said then done in our wealthy society were our modern lifestyles encourage us and our children to overeat yet discourage us to take exercise.

Ancient man was a hunter who stored only a small amount of fat so that he could maintain his blood sugar levels when times were hard and food was scarce. Hunting was also a strenuous activity and he would have burnt many more calories than he consumed.

Modern man is just the opposite. Today high-energy food is in abundance and the nearest he gets to hunting is hunting for the TV remote control. Our fat stores now tend to be way ahead of our requirements and that is the catalyst for developing diabetes.

Diabetes is set to be the scourge of the 21st century if we do not change our eating habits and take up exercise. So get your body mass index checked today and if you have to, take action now.

It is also a good idea to see your doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms as these could be an indication that you are suffering diabetes.

  • Exceptional Thirst
  • Increase Urination
  • Weight Loss even though you have an Increased Appetite
  • Feeling Weak and Tired
  • Dry Mouth
  • Blurry Vision

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