Diabetes and obesity are two major public health problems that the health care system is facing today. Diabetes is a condition where the body does not regulate the levels of sugar correctly. This can be caused by the inability of the body to produce insulin or the body to respond to insulin. The American Diabetes Association lists the following as risk factors for Type II Diabetes: overweight, history of diabetes during pregnancy, high blood glucose, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, lack of exercise, and not maintaining a healthy diet.1
Fortunately, it seems that the US population is taking the right steps towards a healthier lifestyle, as there is recent evidence showing that the prevalence of diabetes and obesity has not substantially changed from 2008 to 2012.2 Nonetheless, the number of adults with diabetes in the United States is still quite high. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as of 2014 there are 29.1 million adults in the United States with diabetes.3 Moreover, the number of adolescents and adults with pre-diabetes in the United States has significantly increased from 1999 to 2010.4 While the number of diabetes cases in the US have not significantly changed in the past few years, there has been a rise of diabetes among the US Hispanic population.2 It has also been found that Hispanics have a higher rate of undiagnosed diabetes.2
There are many ways to help you reduce the risk of developing diabetes. In terms of maintaining a healthy diet the following are some tips that can be helpful. Before you go grocery shopping it is highly recommended that you avoid being on an empty stomach and that you make a grocery list beforehand. Vegetables and fruits should be of highest priority on this list as they are high on vitamins and minerals. When purchasing canned vegetables and fruits you should rinse them in water so that you can reduce the amount of sodium and sugar they contain. When it comes to choosing meats you should aim for leaner meats such as chicken and turkey. As for dairy products it is healthier to reduce the amount of dairy in your diet. You can do this by purchasing 2% milk, skim milk, almond milk, soy milk, or rice milk as alternatives to regular milk. Also, replace white bread, pasta, crackers, and cereals with their whole grain alternatives. You can also replace regular rice with brown rice. Lastly, you should begin your meal with vegetables and foods that are low in calories to help you eat less of fatty foods. For more ideas on how to eat healthy please visit http://www.diabetesforecast.org/landing-pages/adm/?loc=hppuz1_american-diabetes-month-lunch_nov2015.
1. Association AD. What About My Risk? In. http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/lower-your-risk/cua.html, 2014.
2. Menke A, Casagrande S, Geiss L, Cowie CC. Prevalence of and Trends in Diabetes Among Adults in the United States, 1988-2012. JAMA 2015; 314(10): 1021-9.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.: Atlanta, GA., 2014.
4. Bullard KM, Saydah SH, Imperatore G, Cowie CC, Gregg EW, Geiss LS et al. Secular changes in U.S. Prediabetes prevalence defined by hemoglobin A1c and fasting plasma glucose: National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1999-2010. Diabetes Care 2013; 36(8): 2286-93.
Irene Perez is a Nicaraguan-Cuban American born and raised in Miami, Florida. She is a first-year medical student at the University of Rochester. As an undergraduate, she studied biology and physics at Florida International University. She also conducted research in the field of biophysics at Princeton University and at Florida International University. Additionally, she received a master’s degree in Medical Sciences from the University of Florida, where she also conducted research related to gene doping. Irene is hoping to become a pediatrician and specialize in hematology-oncology, as well as conduct ground breaking research in the same field. She is also excited about her life-long commitment to help Hispanic communities improve their quality of life and health. As a member of the Latino Medical Student Association, she is happy to contribute by creating awareness in issues related to the Latino community.