Rock Doc: A better trend for diabetes

“Eat right and exercise.” It’s good advice. But millions of us Americans struggle every day to live up to our hopes regarding diet and activity.

  • Wednesday, November 5, 2014 4:02pm
  • Opinion

“Eat right and exercise.”

It’s good advice. But millions of us Americans struggle every day to live up to our hopes regarding diet and activity. Some of us are pretty good at one thing (for me, it’s exercise) but not good at the other (starch and sweets make up too much of my diet). It just ain’t easy to both eat right and exercise, and do so every day.

But maybe we have been making some progress on our personal goals regarding diet and activity. It looks like our collective efforts to address obesity — and associated diseases like diabetes — may be starting to have some results.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although the devil is in the details, the publication argues that if you look at Americans as a group, obesity and diabetes are no longer increasing as they had been in recent decades.

As the Los Angeles Times reported recently, the rate at which Americans are being newly diagnosed with diabetes has now actually fallen. The statistic reflects how many new cases doctors found per thousand people. In 1990, for Americans between 20-79 years old, the number of new diabetes cases was 3.2. That figure shot up to 8.8 in 2008. The good news is that for 2012, the figure was 7.1, a downward trend worth celebrating.

But three groups are not participating in that improvement. They are Latinos, African Americans and people with only a high school education or less. For a variety of reasons, people in those groups still are experiencing a rising rate of diabetes.

“It’s not good news for everybody,” Shakira Suglia, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told the Los Angeles Times.

And that bad news really matters because diabetes is such a debilitating disease. People with diabetes are more likely than the general population to suffer heart attacks and strokes, to name only two maladies that crop up in the medical statistics. Beyond that there’s blindness and kidney failure to fear and problems in feet and legs that, in the worst case, can lead to amputation.

The overall problem posed by diabetes in the U.S. remains enormous. Nearly 1 in 10 Americans have the disease. There is the human dimension of the suffering that diabetes brings to people and there also is the financial cost associated with treating the disease. Our national health care bill is significantly impacted by the cost of diabetes, which was estimated at $245 billion in 2012.

Even if it’s fragmentary, let’s be thankful for at least a bit of good news in the fight against obesity and diabetes. Let’s keep up the good work and encourage one another to eat right and exercise. We all need to get on board this wagon and that includes me.


Dr. E. Kirsten Peters is a native of the rural Northwest. This column is a service of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University.

 

More in Opinion

x
Water column: Drought, again

Last week our Dungeness and Elwha watersheds were added to the list… Continue reading

Kris Johnson is president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s chamber of commerce and manufacturers association.
Guest opinion: Labor shortage emerges as major issue for employers

What a difference a year makes. As Washington state emerges from the… Continue reading

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Bumper car therapy

Over the last 40 years our family has vacationed at the same… Continue reading

Being Frank: Adjudication will help untangle Nooksack river water rights

The Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe are looking forward to the start… Continue reading

Bertha Cooper
Think About It: Unmasked stranger

Husband and I had been out of town for three days preoccupied… Continue reading

Linda B. Myers
From the Back Nine: Chip shots

If you’ve read this column before, you know that “The Back Nine”… Continue reading

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Power of our interconnected grid with ample supply

How about some good news coming out of our record-breaking (extreme) heat… Continue reading

Bertha Cooper
Think About It: Who shall lead?

Last summer I was writing about what I called embedded threads of… Continue reading

Don Brunell
Guest opinion: Family tree farms key to cutting greenhouse gases

As climate change concerns grow, researchers are turning to small tree farmers… Continue reading

Crystal Linn
Aging Successfully: Preparing beforehand, a family affair

Have you had the experience, and headache of trying to deal with… Continue reading

Guest Opinion: Vaccines, a round in the chamber

It’s 10:25 a.m. on Saturday, June 19, and I’ve just returned from… Continue reading

Guest opinion: Courts, lawmakers shouldn’t make call on who’s media

Journalists of a certain age — those on the other side of… Continue reading