Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Diabetes ozone thickens over L.A.

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Per 2005 data, nearly 600,000 adults in L.A. have diabetes -- 8.8 percent of the population. L.A. has witnessed a one-third increase in merely five years -- 6.6 percent reported having the disease in 1997. Minorities are especially hard hit, with a survey showing Latinos and blacks have nearly double the rate compared to whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders.

Whether a doctor, a person with diabetes or a citizen on the sideline, frustration runs high as so many people with type 2 diabetes could prevent the disease through healthier diet and exercise. The following statistic is tremendously revealing to me, 41 percent of the L.A. adults with diabetes are obese, and the one-third rise in diabetes between '97 and '05 closely followed a large increase of obese adults, which rose from 14 percent to 21 percent in the same time frame. It is frightening to see a 50 percent rise in obesity with a simultaneous one-third rise in diabetes. It also affirms the fact not all obese people develop type 2 diabetes.

L.A. health officials cite part of the problem is the unavailability of fruits and vegetables in low-income areas. Quality supermarkets are scarce, leaving only a plethora of fast-food fare and small mini-markets. This is a complaint in urban areas nationwide, but it is especially ironic in California -- the largest grower of fruits and vegetables in the country.

Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of public health for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, is particularly concerned the burden of diabetes is falling disproportionately on specific groups. Gayle Schachne, director of the area's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, is concerned about the rise of diabetes in the Hispanic population. She stated consumption of sugary juices is a concern. WIC dietitians have devised two bilingual, healthy recipe books. My head spins at the complexity of rising obesity -- many thoughts rattle around in my cage. Our country's cultural attitude toward diet and exercise needs to change; the behemoth food industry needs a nutrition overhaul, what about our increased vaccine schedule in relation to our metabolism; and we can't disregard our exposure to ever-rising pollutants in the air and water. Sometimes I feel like the brakes are out as we sit on the Type 2 Diabetes Express hanging on for our lives. Read more in the LA Daily News.

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