The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 9, 2010

Weight loss can curb diabetes

DANVILLE — Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and most of those individuals are overweight.

"Almost 90 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight -- a condition we call 'diabesity,' which can range from mild blood sugar imbalance to full-blown diabetes," said Christopher Still, D.O., director of Geisinger Medical Center's Center for Nutrition and Weight Management.

Coined the diabesity epidemic, the increase in type 2 diabetes has been linked to elevated obesity rates in the U.S., rising from 13 percent in the early 1960s to more than 30 percent by 2008, according to the CDC. "Type 2 diabetes is a condition that, as obesity rates climb, has become a serious health problem in the U.S.," Dr. Still said.

Being overweight puts added pressure on the body's ability to properly control blood sugar and therefore makes it much more likely for those who are obese to develop diabetes, Dr. Still said. The good news is that even a modest weight loss can produce clear health benefits.

"Losing just 5 to 10 percent of overall body weight -- 10 to 20 pounds -- can not only lower blood sugar, but lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and reduce stress on joints," Dr. Still said. "Some patients may be able to reduce or stop their insulin regimen altogether simply by losing weight."

According to Dr. Still, losing weight as a diabetic has its own challenges.

"A weight-loss plan designed to address or decrease the likelihood of diabetes, whether through diet and exercise or bariatric surgery, should not be endeavored upon independently because of dieting's potential effect on blood sugar levels. Those wishing to lose weight should first consult with their primary care physician," said Dr. Still. "Individuals also should gradually increase physical activity. This way you can better control your blood sugar. Weight also will be more likely to stay off if you lose it slowly and safely."

Dr. Still said better nutrition, activity and control of blood sugar levels can delay the progression of diabetes or eveliminate the disease altogether.

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