Study shows threat of diabetes growing among Americans

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Look at the person to your right.

Unless he or she has diabetes or high blood sugar, guess what -- you need to be concerned.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has published online a study showing that half of the adults living in the United States have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition where a person has high blood sugar and is at risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes of Type 1 (lack of insulin production) or Type 2 (insulin-resistant, generally resulting from obesity, poor diet or lack of exercise) costs the United States an estimated $245 billion in 2012 in health care costs and lost productivity. It can damage the blood vessels, eyes and kidneys, make it harder for your body to heal wounds and more subject to soft tissue infections.

Nearly 71,000 Americans die from diabetes each year, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Your chances of developing diabetes depend on your race, according to the study of 5,000 patients. Up to 20 percent of Asian Americans had diabetes, nearly half of them unaware of it. Nearly 22 percent of African Americans had diabetes, 11 percent of whites, and 23 percent of Hispanics.

It's getting worse; the researchers noted a sharp increase in diabetes between 1990 to 2008.

But why is it increasing? Aren't we all eating healthier?

Well, maybe not; it turns out that many of the "healthy" foods we've turned to are loaded with sugar.

The World Health Organization released guidelines stating that adults and children should consume only six teaspoons a day of sugar -- most Americans eat 22-32 teaspoons per day of sugar.

Yogurt, for example. Plain yogurt is great, but most flavored yogurts are loaded with sugar, perhaps as much as 8 ounces of regular Coke.

Cereal -- need we say more? Gluten-free and low-fat cereals, especially are often loaded with sugar to make up for the lack of other flavors.

Pure orange juice is healthy, but the natural sugar adds up quickly, especially when it's not balanced out with the fiber in the pulp that's strained from the juice.

Salad dressing can have upwards of 5 grams per serving and ketchup often has a lot of high-fructose corn syrup. Read the labels and consider brewing up your own condiments.

The same for tomato sauce -- it can have two to three teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Be careful to read the label when buying peanut butter, which can have a lot of added sugar as well as hydrogenated oils. You can also make your own nut butters at home and enjoy as part of a banana toast sandwich drizzled with honey.

Check out Diabetes Basics with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://1.usa.gov/1K9muXs

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