Tag Archives: diabetes prevention

Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes Depends on the Cause

(moonlights as a clown)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control predicts that one of every three Americans born in 2000 will develop diabetes, mostly type 2.

You can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes significantly by avoiding overweight and obesity, by exercising regularly, and by choosing the right parents.  These provide clues as to the causes of diabetes.

UpToDate.com offers a deceptively simple explanation of what causes type 2 diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is caused by a combination of varying degrees of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. [Insulin is the pancreas hormone that lowers blood sugar.] Its occurrence most likely represents a complex interaction among many genes and environmental factors, which are different among different populations and individuals.

So what causes the insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency?

Understanding the pathogenesis [cause] of type 2 diabetes is complicated by several factors. Patients present with a combination of varying degrees of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency, and it is likely that both contribute to type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, each of the clinical features can arise through genetic or environmental influences, making it difficult to determine the exact cause in an individual patient. Moreover, hyperglycemia itself can impair pancreatic beta cell function and exacerbate insulin resistance, leading to a vicious cycle of hyperglycemia causing a worsening metabolic state.

The UpToDate article then drones on for a couple thousand words discussing mouse studies, various genes, free fatty acids, adiponectin, leptin, amylin, insulin secretion, insulin resistance, impaired insulin processing, insulin action, body fat distribution, inflammation, various inflammatory markers, low birth weight, high birth rate, prematurity, etc.  More excerpts:

Increased free fatty acid levels, inflammatory cytokines from fat, and oxidative factors, have all been implicated in the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and their cardiovascular complications.

Insulin resistance may, at least in part, be related to substances secreted by adipocytes [fat cells] (“adipokines” including leptin adiponectin, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and resistin).

Type 2 diabetes most likely represents a complex interaction among many genes and environmental factors.

While it’s too late to pick your parents, you can modify environmental factors that affect your risk of diabetes.  See the second paragraph above.  The Mediterranean diet also prevents diabetes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: “The Pathogensis of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus”  by David K McCulloch, MD, and R Paul Robertson, MD, at UpToDate.com, updated June 2012, and accessed November 19, 2012.

U.S. Diabetes Prevalence From 1935 to 1979 and Beyond

From 1935 to 1996, the prevalence of diagnosed type 2 diabetes [in the U.S.] climbed nearly 765%.

This shocking statistic is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as cited in Increased Consumption of Refined Carbohydrates and the Epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes in the United States: an Ecologic Assessment, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004, vol. 79, no.5, pp: 774-779.

I thought 765% might be a misprint, so I did some digging.  A similar figure is in DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 82-1232 published in 1981:

  • Diabetes prevalence rose from 0.4% of the population in 1935,  to 2.4% in 1979.

This is a six-fold increase.  The major part of the upward trend started in 1960.  Interestingly, that’s when corn syrup started working its way into our food supply.  Coincidence?  The authors of the Department of Human Services paper write:

Preliminary evaluation of these trends suggests that the change in the prevalence of known diabetes has resulted from improvements both in detection of diabetes among high-risk groups and in survivorship among persons with diabetes.

Like type 1 diabetics, many type 2’s need insulin shots

To me, it sounds like they weren’t considering an true increase in the number of new diabetes cases (incidence), but better detection of existing cases and improved longevity of existing patients (prevalence).  Incidence and prevalence are often confusing.  Wikipedia has a clarifying article.  These days, both incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes are greatly increased over 1935 levels.

In January of 2011, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the latest estimates for prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes.

  • 8.3% of the total U.S. population has either diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes (earlier percentages in this post were for diagnosed cases only)
  • 6% of the U.S. adult population has diagnosed diabetes (My calculation: Population in 2011 was 311 million; with 18.8 million diagnosed cases of diabetes, 7 million undiagnosed)
  • Nearly 27% of American adults age 65 or older have diabetes (overwhelmingly type 2)
  • Half of Americans 65 and older have prediabetes
  • 11% of U.S. adults (nearly 26 million) have diabetes (overwhelmingly type 2)
  • 35% of adults (79 million) have prediabetes, and most of those affected don’t know it

Even if type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you may well be able to avoid it.  Here’s a post about prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

In U.S. Adolescents, Diabetes and Prediabetes Doubled in the Last Decade

In June, 2012, the journal Pediatrics had an article stating that the incidence of diabetes and prediabetes in U.S. adolescents increased from 9% in 1999 to 23% in 2008.  The finding is based on the NHANES survey of 12 to 19-year-olds, which included a single fasting blood sugar determination.

The investigators offered no solution to the problem.  I’m no pediatrician, but my guess is that the following measures would help prevent adolescent type 2 diabetes and prediabetes:

I’m sure many of the adolescent type 2 diabetics and prediabetics are overweight or obese.  A 2010 study out of Colorado found a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet safe and effective for adolescents.  Fortunately, the decades-long ascent of the adolescent obesity rate in the U.S. seems to have peaked for now.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I scanned the article quickly and don’t remember if the researchers broke down the diabetes cases by type 1 and type 2.  I’d be shocked if type 1 diabetes rose this much over the last decade.

Reference: Martinez-Gonzalez, M.A., et al.  Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of developing diabetes: prospective cohort study.  British Medical Journal, BMJ,doi:10.1136/bmj.39561.501007.BE (published online May 29, 2008).

Once Again, Mediterranean Diet Prevents Diabetes

Spanish researchers report that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 50% in middle-aged and older Spaniards, compared with a low-fat diet.

Over 400 people participated in a trial comparing two Mediterranean diets and a low-fat diet. Over the course of four years, 10 or 11% of the Mediterraneans developed type 2 diabetes, compared to 18% of the low-fatters. One of the Mediterranean diets favored olive oil, the other promoted nut consumption.

We’ve seen previously that the Mediterranean diet prevents diabetes—not all cases, of course—in folks who have had a heart attack. It also reduced the risk of diabetes in younger, generally healthy people in Spain.

So What?

The study at hand is not ground-breaking. It expands the body of evidence that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest around.

Learn how to move your diet in a Mediterranean direction at Oldways or the Advanced Mediterranean Diet website.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Salas-Salvado, J., Bullo, M., Babio, N., Martinez-Gonzalez, M., Ibarrola-Jurado, N., Basora, J., Estruch, R., Covas, M., Corella, D., Aros, F., Ruiz-Gutierrez, V., Ros, E., & , . (2010). Reduction in the Incidence of Type 2-Diabetes with the Mediterranean Diet: Results of the PREDIMED-Reus Nutrition Intervention Randomized Trial Diabetes Care DOI: 10.2337/dc10-1288

Type 2 Diabetes CAN Be Prevented

Not Paula Deen

Paula Deen’s recent announcement of her type 2 diabetes got me thinking about diabetes prevention again. If you’re at high risk of developing diabetes you can reduce your risk of full-blown type 2 diabetes by 58% with intensive lifestyle modification. Here’s how it was done in a 2002 study:

The goals for the participants assigned to the intensive lifestyle intervention were to achieve and maintain a weight reduction of at least 7 percent of initial body weight through a healthy low-calorie, low-fat diet and to engage in physical activity of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking, for at least 150 minutes per week. A 16-lesson curriculum covering diet, exercise, and behavior modification was designed to help the participants achieve these goals. The curriculum, taught by case managers on a one-to-one basis during the first 24 weeks after enrollment, was flexible, culturally sensitive, and individualized. Subsequent individual sessions (usually monthly) and group sessions with the case managers were designed to reinforce the behavioral changes.

Although the Diabetes Prevention Program encouraged a low-fat diet, another study from 2008 showed that a low-fat diet did nothing to prevent diabetes in postmenopausal women.

I don’t know Paula Deen. I’ve never watched one of her cooking shows. She looks overweight and I’d be surprised if she’s had a good exercise routine over the last decade. I’m sorry she’s part of the diabetes epidemic we have in the U.S. I wish her well. Amy Tenderich posted the transcript of her brief interview with Paula, who calculates her sweet tea habit gave her one-and-a-half cups of sugar daily).

  • Nearly 27% of American adults age 65 or older have diabetes (overwhelmingly type 2)
  • Half of Americans 65 and older have prediabetes
  • 11% of U.S. adults (nearly 26 million) have diabetes (overwhelmingly type 2)
  • 35% of adults (79 million) have prediabetes, and most of those affected don’t know it

I think excessive consumption of concentrated sugars and refined carbohydrates contribute to the diabetes epidemic. Probably more important are overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity.

The Mediterranean diet has also been linked to lower rates of diabetes (and here). Preliminary studies suggest the Paleo diet may also be preventative (and here).

Greatly reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by eating right, keeping your weight reasonable, and exercising.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Paula, if you’d like a copy of Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes: The Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, have your people contact my people.

Reference: Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Reduction in the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Intervention or Metformin. New England Journal of Medicine, 346 (2002): 393-403.