YMCA: ‘Closest Thing To A Wonder Drug’

YMCA News:

  • Modest weight loss of 5-7 percent can prevent onset of Type 2 Diabetes

The New Mexico Department of Health estimates that 1 in 3 adult New Mexicans have prediabetes, a step away from diabetes, and a condition in itself that increases cardiovascular disease. But the good news is that a modest weight loss of 5-7 percent (that’s 12 pounds for a person who weighs 230 lbs.), and a modest increase in physical activity of 150 minutes a week (20 minutes a day) can prevent or delay diabetes all together.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) published a study on lifestyle change versus medication to prevent the onset of diabetes in 2002, and the lifestyle change group did much better at preventing diabetes that those on the medication metformin.

“Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study also found that the lifestyle changes worked particularly well for participants aged 60 and older, reducing their risk by 71 percent. Another study found the lifestyle changes even reduced urinary incontinence in women.

According to Stacey Castille, Wellness Director at The Family YMCA, grandmother was right, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.  “The best way to reduce new cases of type 2 diabetes is to prevent them. Awareness is the first step to prevention,” she said.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), in the United States diabetes affects nearly 29 million people and another 86 million Americans have prediabetes, yet only about 9 million are aware of it. The ADA stance is that while the nation’s struggle with obesity and type 2 diabetes is no surprise, the number of people with prediabetes is a growing issue, especially when only 10 percent realize they have the condition.

In support of the American Diabetes Association’s Alert Day on March 22, Castilleencourages people to learn their risks regarding diabetes.  She encourages everyone to take a risk test at www.ymca.net/diabetes. Several factors that could put a person at risk for type 2 diabetes include family history, age, weight, and activity level, among others.

Prediabetes is an often preventable condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes are at risk for not only developing type 2diabetes, but also heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

Letting it go further to diabetes complicates health incredibly, as diabetes is the main cause of kidney failure, limb amputation and new-onset blindness in American adults. People with diabetes are more likely than people without to develop and die fromdiseases of the heart and blood vessels, called cardio vascular disease. Adults with diabetes have heart disease rates 2-4 times higher than adults without diabetes, and carry a risk for stoke that is 2-4 times higher as well.

Castillo said the Y has tools to help people make healthier choices to reduce the risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes including nutrition counseling and wellness coaching sessions.

“Chances are each of us has a friend or family member with diabetes, but it’s even more likely that we know someone with prediabetes who doesn’t even know he or she is at risk,” Castille said. “Diabetes Alert Day is the perfect time to not only determine our own risk, but also encourage our family and friends to determine their chance of developing the disease. Studies show that people with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by making simple lifestyle changes that include eating healthier and increasing physical activity.”

Some basic lifestyle changes that contribute to weight loss and an increased focus on healthy living can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes. Among these are:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Choose fish, lean meats and poultry without skin.
  • Aim for whole grains with every meal.
  • Be moderately active at least 30 minutes per day five days a week.
  • Choose water to drink instead of beverages with added sugar.
  • Speak to your doctor about your diabetes risk factors, especially if you have a family history of the disease or are overweight.  

To learn more about The Y’s Wellness Programs, visit www.laymca.org or contact Castille, Wellness Director at 505.662.3100 or scastille@laymca.org.

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