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Neighbors of Kane County

Blood Sugar Chronicles

Nov 06, 2019 01:35PM

It was more than a decade ago when Time Magazine published a cover story chronicling the benefits of modern life. Better automobiles, bigger homes, and faster computers made the list! Despite these advances, life has not been getting better for everyone! Over the past twenty years, the incidence of type 2 diabetes has been increasing across all age groups (children, teenagers, and adults).

This disease not only damages multiple organ systems (including your eyes, kidneys, arteries, veins, heart, and nervous system), it also doubles your risk of suffering a fatal heart attack and stroke. As striking as these realities are, they’re exponentially worse when applied to young adults!

Imagine turning 21 and being told you have type 2 diabetes, a disease that use to only be seen in adults over the age of 60! You’re now going to spend your birthday learning about the drugs you’ll be on for the rest of your life. And yes, the use of these miracle drugs can lead to collateral damage (i.e., undesirable side-effects). A 2011 study published in the British Medical Journal found a commonly prescribed diabetes medication increased risk of heart attack, deaths [1]. The growing prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the United States is nothing less than a train wreck! It increases the cost of medicine, decreases the quality of life, and reduces lifespan.

You may be asking yourself how things got so bad? The answer is simple! According to the American Diabetes Association and numerous other health agencies, type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease. This means it’s completely related to our daily health habits (exercise, nutrition, etc.). Unlike some degenerative diseases, diabetes can be reversed by changing your lifestyle.

The strongest evidence to date on the prevention of diabetes comes from a study called the Diabetes Prevention Program [2], otherwise known as DPP. In the 2.8 years of the DPP (a randomized clinical trial), diabetes incidence in 3150 high-risk adults was reduced by 58% (71% in individuals aged 65 and older) with intensive lifestyle intervention, and 31% with metformin (a diabetes drug), compared with placebo. The overwhelming success of the study led to the creation of the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP).

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and offered at clinics and medical centers that meet rigorous standards set by the CDC. The program is designed to address the economic and health burden of pre-diabetes and diabetes in the United States.

The program is centered around the same behaviors that generated overwhelming success in the original DPP study. The program recommendations include eating differently (to achieve a weight loss of 7% of body weight) and exercising (completing 150 minutes of brisk physical activity per week). The eating plan focuses on reducing fat and calories by consuming more unprocessed foods (i.e., whole fruits and vegetables, etc.). Adding these wholesome and filling foods helped study participants reduce calories without getting hungry. These simple, yet effective dietary changes promoted medically significant weight loss in the DPP study.

The exercise portion of the program recommends being more active by engaging in 150 minutes of brisk physical activity per week. This can be as simple as taking a brisk 22-minute walk, every day. When you factor in exercise guidelines from the American Diabetes Association and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, strength training is added to the prescription.

The diabetes-muscle connection is one most Americans miss. This is unfortunate given diabetes contributes to three of the leading causes of death annually, in the United States [4]. Several large scientific reviews have shown that strength training may help manage and reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes. Research suggests that building muscle improves blood sugar control by increasing the body’s ability to store and process glucose (blood sugar). According to Dr. Tim Church, of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, “The biggest consumer of sugar in the blood is muscle. If you keep your muscles happy, they chew up massive amounts of sugar [5].” Given the growing prevalence of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, I’m recommending a two-step approach to managing your health! If you don’t have diabetes, embrace the NDPP recommendations to prevent it. If you’re living with diabetes embrace the same behaviors to reverse it!


British Medical Journal, 2011;342:d1309.

Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. The Lancet 347 (9702), 1677-1686, 2009.  

10-Year follow-up of diabetes incidence and weight loss in the DPP Outcomes Study. The Lancet, Volume 374, Issue 9702, 14-20 November 2009, Pages 1677-9702.

Deaths: Leading Causes form 2017,

Exercise and Health: Making Sense of Conflicting Recommendations. Timothy Church, MD, MPH, Ph.D. 2009, SCAN Symposium, Dallas TX.

By MEDFITNESS owner Richard J. Wolff, RDN. MEDFITNESS is a strength training studio in St. Charles, Illinois that specializes in On Demand Personal Training ™. For additional information visit

© MEDFITNESS 2019 Blood Sugar Chronicles