March 18, 2008

The Media Get It Right!!!!!!

The tide is turning folks! It has taken decades, but very slowly the message is starting to get through that diabetes is NOT caused by obesity and that the best way to determine if you are heading towards diabetes is to test your blood sugar with a meter.

Check out this spectacularly brilliant health feature from The Daily Mail (UK):

Tired? Don't Assume It's Your Lifestyle.

The writers quote a doctor as saying re diabetes, ""Even someone who looks perfectly well, not overweight at all, can be affected." Then they take a blood sugar meter and test a bunch of people. They present the people's photos, data about their age, weight, and lifestyle and what their blood sugar turned out to be. If it wasn't normal they sent them to a doctor. The cutoff they used for normal was 160 mg/dl after eating and 106 mg/dl fasting.

The guy diagnosed as fully diabetic was surprised because he was a vegetarian (No surprise to me. A vegetarian diet is almost always an extremely high carb diet.)

Lots of overweight people they tested came out completely normal. In fact the second lowest reading, 82 mg/dl was that of an obese woman. The only reading lower was 55 mg/dl which looks like reactive hypogycemia. The woman with that reading had a family history of diabetes.

A few young people of normal weight they tested turned out to have abnormal blood sugars. One, only slightly overweight, was told by a doctor she had prediabetes and the other who was completely normal weight-wise but tested at 165 mg/dl and then 130 an hour later and was told she needs more follow up. Those readings suggest very early deterioration.

But isn't this exciting! Just imagine if people started bringing meters to work and having parties to see what everyone's random blood sugar was and sending everyone with abnormal readings to get checked out.

Of course, this happened in the UK where doctors do the oral glucose tolerance test to check for diabetes, NOT the fasting blood sugar test used in the U.S. which is almost worthless at identifying anything but fully-progressed diabetes of several years duration. Still, what a concept. How different my life might have been if someone had taken my abnormal glucose tolerance results seriously when I was a very thin 28 year old!

Coincidentally, yesterday's AP newswire ran a story about MODY and other forms of genetic diabetes.

Genes Point to Varied Diabetic Subtypes

My top fave diabetes researcher, Dr. Hattersley was quoted. He's the doctor who was so helpful to me when I was trying to figure out what was going on with my own diabetes.

Most interestingly, the article had this to say about genes so far identified as being involved with Type 2 diabetes: "Surprisingly, the Type 2 genes don't affect how the body uses insulin, thought to be the trigger. Instead, they alter how the pancreas makes insulin in the first place, explains Dr. David Altshuler of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

In short, these Type 2 genes don't cause IR, they cause secretory defects which the article goes on to suggest become critical when environmental factors like weight gain stress the glucose control system.

What the article doesn't say, but what research has shown is that weight gain often RESULTS from the marginal blood sugar control caused by the original secretory defect.

But oh my stars! What a nice change from all that media bleating about how "diabetes is caused by lazy people eating too much."

All that remains to make me a very happy lady is for another mass media organ to highlight the fact that cutting way down on carbs is far more effective at normalizing diabetic blood sugar than either oral drugs or WLS. But to see that I'll probably have to live to be very, very old.

I'm working on it!


Scott S said...

I'd like to think that the media is finally becoming more educated, although that may be a premature conclusion! Still, once they do get this, then perhaps the condition will be acknowledged to be serious health condition which impacts every body function and system in some way, rather than a mere patient inconvenience that can easily be addressed with some good eating and exercise habits, easily treated with a simple medication from the big drug companies as it is so often depicted.

Perceptions need to change, and we are starting from a badly warped perception about what diabetes is to begin with. Progress may be incremental, but it cannot come soon enough for many of us!

Anonymous said...

Music to my ears!

Anonymous said...

Ha. Sent a link to your post to my wife's family. Everyone wants to stick their head in the sand with "I'm a vegetarian" excuse for not having their BG tested. If it weren't for my insistance my father-in-law would never have been tested and would never have know he had Type 2.

Jenny said...


Nice to hear from you! Hope you are doing well.

Anonymous said...

I was a scout in the army, I exercised all the time after I got out. But my diet was pretty uninformed, and I overworked myself. It wasn't until I got the IR diet book and put diabetes on under Google Alerts that it started to turn around for me. I was able to eliminate mood swings, depression and exhaustion in addition to mitigating my D. Yeah, I was basically an athlete and I got it.

Nicky said...

The Daily Mail, and their Sunday sister paper, seem to be pretty interested in diabetes. I'm asked to be a case study for them a couple of times a year - latest one coming out in a month or so - and I'm always allowed to push test,test,test and eating to your meter. I wonder if one of their health editors is T2?


Jenny said...


If they've been in contact with you, that would explain a lot!

(For my other readers, Nicky has been very active in promoting the idea of testing blood sugar after meals and lowering carbs until you get normal blood sugars in the UK for years.)