Sunday, January 08, 2017

Fight Diabetes - Part I

Recently I read that diabetes is now the costliest component of the US healthcare system.

At work, one of my functions is to identify queries that cost the most and find ways to reduce that cost. This is orders of magnitude more complex, but nevertheless, as a concerned citizen I thought I’d try to find some information on how to combat this epidemic. And, full disclosure, having seen Robert Lustig and Fed Up already, I was looking for evidence that sugar consumption is implicated. I wasn’t disappointed.

Considering that we as a nation struggle so mightily to solve the problem of health care costs, it seems the kind of topic that we all should take an interest in. Here are some things I found:

How costly is it in the US?
·         Diabetes and prediabetes cost America $322 billion per year
·         $1 in $3 Medicare dollars is spent caring for people with diabetes

What causes Type-2 diabetes?
·         weight loss was the main predictor of reduced risk for developing diabetes
·         diabetes risk reduction efforts should focus on weight loss

So, obesity is the most important factor for Type-2 diabetes. What then causes obesity?
I’m aware that sedentary lifestyle and low quality foods are risk factors, but I believe the big elephant in this room is sugar. Plenty of reputable sources highlight the correlation between sugary drinks and obesity. Here are a couple examples:
·         link between weight gain and drinking sweetened beverages.
The CDC draws attention to sugary drinks in particular:
Eat fewer foods that are high in sugar, such as: 
·         Fruit-flavored drinks.
·         Sodas.
·         Tea or coffee sweetened with sugar.

Progress is Underway
Having connected dots from problem to proximate cause, I wondered what can one do to help in the fight against diabetes/obesity.

As it happens, action has been taken. Many of the public are aware of the problem. In fact Soda consumption has dropped for more than a decade. Big soda has been losing 1 percent of its market share per year in that time and the gallons of soda consumed per capita has dropped by over 10 gallons per year in that time.

Nevertheless, I personally feel that for a problem so costly to our health and wealth, we should accelerate that trend if we are able. A little outrage is I think appropriate here. After all the as it is well stated in the blurb for the book Soda Politics by Dr. Marion Nestle:
how did products containing absurdly inexpensive ingredients become multibillion dollar industries and international brand icons, while also having a devastating impact on public health?

Thinking of it this way causes some anger and outrage to stir within my breast.

Those feelings, if I can articulate them well, will feature in a subsequent post.

In the meantime, if you want more information, or if you want to learn how to take some action to reduce the harm that sugary beverages are wreaking on our society, consider these links:
·         Super Size Me

·         Fed Up

I may decide to buy and read Soda Politics.


James said...

For anyone interested in eliminating their processed sugar intake, those are good documentaries to watch. Binge watching these programs are a big help in taking away the craving. There are about 15 other shows that can be seen on Netflix or Amazon on a nightly rotation.

The Campbell's said...

But please binge watch while on a treadmill. :)