December 3rd, 2013

The “lifestyle” condition: Type 2 diabetes


I’m old enough to remember when there were only 2 types of diabetes named juvenile onset diabetes (JOD) and adult onset diabetes (AOD).

Why did they have those names?

Because of when they tended to be diagnosed, so that JOD was nearly always diagnosed very early in life while AOD was never diagnosed before the age of 40.

Now, however, it’s quite different.

We now acknowledge that there are other forms of diabetes including one that comes on with pregnancy.

But the most interesting change, I think, is that we now have different names for JOD and AOD, namely Type 1 diabetes (the old JOD) and Type 2 diabetes (the old AOD).

The main reason for that change in terminology is the depressing fact that Type 2 diabetes is no longer confined to aging “adults” but is increasingly being diagnosed in kids.

And what’s most frustrating is that Type 2 diabetes is to a very large extent a “lifestyle” condition meaning that if people were to keep to a normal weight and do some regular exercise and eat properly, the great majority of Type 2 diabetes cases would be prevented, even in most people who have a higher genetic risk for this condition.

Bottom line: even if you have Type 2 diabetes in your family, this condition is a “poster child” for those chronic health problems that are hugely amenable to your own choices in life.

If you don’t want to end up with diabetes (and its much higher risk of complications such as heart attacks, strokes, amputations, kidney disease, blindness and many other health problems you really don’t want to get), pay attention to your weight, your level of activity and what you eat.

Even more important, perhaps, do that for your kids: this is a condition you really, really, really want to prevent if you can, especially early in your lives.

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