Diabetes 5th Deadliest Disease In U.S.

Elizabeth S. Reames, Claesgens, Mark A.  |  10/31/2006 9:54:06 PM

News You Can Use Distributed 10/31/06

Every November, the American Diabetes Association encourages the public to learn more about diabetes and the risks associated with the disease. "Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States and has no cure," says LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

Nearly 21 million children and adults in the United States, or 7 percent of the population, have diabetes. Another 54 million Americans have pre-diabetes, a condition that puts them at serious risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Reames explains that diabetes impairs the body's ability to produce or respond properly to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy.

According to the 2000 Louisiana Health Report Card issued by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, an estimated 365,000 Louisianians age 20 and older have diabetes. Some 32 percent of them, or 115,000 adults, are undiagnosed or unaware they have diabetes and are therefore not receiving recommended treatment to prevent or delay the onset of complications.

The report card adds that more than a million additional persons may be at increased risk for diabetes because of the risk factors of age, obesity and sedentary lifestyle. If current trends continue, one in three Americans and one in two minorities born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetimes.

"Healthy eating is important for managing diabetes," Reames says, but concedes, "Knowing what to eat can be confusing." The American Diabetes Association offers tips for making healthful food choices:

– Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Try picking from the rainbow of colors available to maximize variety. Eat nonstarchy vegetables such as spinach, carrots, broccoli or green beans with meals.

– Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products. Try brown rice with stir fry or whole wheat spaghetti with pasta sauce.

– Include dried beans (like kidney or pinto beans) and lentils in meals.

– Include fish in meals 2-3 times a week.

– Choose lean meats like cuts of beef and pork that end in "loin" such as pork loin and sirloin. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.

– Choose nonfat dairy products such as skim milk, nonfat yogurt and nonfat cheese.

– Choose water and calorie-free "diet" drinks instead of regular soda, fruit punch, sweet tea and other sugar-sweetened drinks.

– Choose liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats that can be high in saturated and trans fats. Remember that fats are high in calories. If you're trying to lose weight, watch your portion sizes of added fats.

– Cut back on high-calorie snack foods and desserts like chips, cookies, cakes and full-fat ice cream.

"Eating too much of even healthful foods can lead to weight gain," the nutritionist points out, adding, "So watch portion sizes."

The LSU AgCenter’s Diabetes Education Awareness Recommendations Program and Portions Healthy Weight Program provide information on healthful eating, physical activity recommendations and lifestyle habits. For information about these programs or about eating healthfully using the Food Guide Pyramid, contact the LSU AgCenter extension agent in your parish.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: 2000 Louisiana Health Report Card: http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/
Contact: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929 or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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