by Marion Nestle
Oct 31 2008

Diabetes rates double, especially in South

The CDC announces that rates of type 2 diabetes have nearly doubled overall in the last ten years,and more than doubled in states in the south and in Puerto Rico.  Ten years ago, the average was around 5%; now it’s around 10%.  No surprise: the rates closely track rates of obesity.

  • Ashley Colpaart

    My question is when will we start treating this like the epidemic that it is, and stop taking the industry position of personal responsibility? While I think personal responsibility is a factor, we need to start looking at major environmental and policy changes.

  • Sheila

    I respectfully take a different opinion. I think much of this is due to lax personal responsibility.
    Nobody forces people to fill their grocery carts with highly processed foods rich in fat, sugar, and dense calories. Grocery stores now have packages of prepared foods in the produce section so even the busiest of people can tear open a plastic bag and grab a handful of a variety of ready-to-eat veggies and fruits, just as convenient as the chips and cookies and candies and frozen snacks.
    I am tired of shopping at the grocery store and seeing cart after cart full of “food”, none of which is from the fresh produce section, but all of it highly processed products.
    I don’t buy the argument that people don’t know what to eat. Again, there is so much information available in a variety of media, a person could put forth a little effort to learn the basics. I don’t think you have to be a nutrition expert like Marion to figure out healthier meals and snacks.
    I am tired of hearing many people tell me they can’t afford good food when they apparently can afford cigarettes and 100+ channel cable or satellite TV service. Making a choice between these things means making a choice to be healthier or not. I know families that eat junk food because they “cannot afford” good food, but choose to spend $300 a month or more on the combination of cigarettes and satellite tv.
    Many families do not encourage or provide role models for daily exercise. Parents need to go outside with children and demonstrate a lifestyle that includes active fun regularly.
    The corporate execs will sit up and take notice when people quit buying the high calorie food choices. They will not waste money making food items that don’t sell. If we would quit buying the fast food products that deliver a whole day’s calories in a meal, they would modify what they offer. If we would quit buying the super size choices, they would not waste their money making them.
    Our society does need to provide support for healthier environment policies. When schools try to implement policies for healthy lunches or snack machine choices or party foods, it seems there is always some faction of people who raise objections, saying their freedom of choice is being curtailed. How about my freedom from having to pay more for health care or medical insurance because they don’t take care of their body and subsequently have expensive health complications?

  • Michelle

    A lot of these states are poorer states. In order to feed a family, people will eat “poor quality food” as my aunt in new orleans says. Poor quality food tends to be highly processed, refined carbohydrates, loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and fat.

    Personally, I do not believe that fat is the culprit with regards to obesity in America. I believe the culprit is the junk food americans eat, which is the refined carbohydrates. When fat is combined with these refined carbs that is when fat makes a person fat. Refined carbs have basically no nutritional value. Yet they are exceedingly cheap. So when parents are trying to feed their kids with limited funds, what are they going to purchased? Cheap, heavily processed foods. Over time these foods take a toll on the human body and voila!, people get diabetes.

    In my opinion Americans do not know much about nutrition. We are bombarded with tons of conflicting information about food that it is difficult to make smart decsions.

    Do not assume people know things. Being in education for 14 years, specifically as a school librarian, I know most people do not read. They do not read blogs, newspapers, Time, Newsweek, or watch the news. Most Americans are “aliterate” meaning they know how to read but choose not to read. Most people believe what the advertisers put on television.

  • The thing that makes me sad is when people attribute diabetes or cancer or other diseases to genetic causes. I am quite sure that there are many many Type 2 diabetics who don’t think there’s anything they can do.

  • We need a complete paradigm change in our relationship with food in our society or nothing will be any different, and really, it’s just going to get worse.

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