DIABESITY: THE KILLER EPIDEMIC SWEEPING NORTH AMERICA
The Evolution of Diabesity
Our ancestors roamed the well-oxygenated plains, braved the elements and hunted for their dinner, a repast that came about once every three sunrises, if the gods were on their side. The women were busy guardians of the primitive hearth, carriers of water and children, and the roles were well defined.
In today’s world, where success at work is not entirely determined by brawn, neither physical hunting nor foraging is a daily expectation. Our skeletal structure has not changed that much, but we have decided that we prefer the chair to the hunting grounds. In corporate, and indeed many professional settings, we eschew the locomotion for which our bodies were designed, choosing instead to be locked in one position for hours on end. Our food is often more than twenty-five steps removed from where it is grown, our water flavoured, our air recycled, and we wonder why we are beset with illnesses our forebears never knew!
Although the foregoing evolutionary history is an obvious generalization, one that can be countered by many an argument such as an increased life span, brain capacity and other considerations, the upshot is simply that our sedentary lifestyles are slowly killing us. And, sometimes, not so slowly!
- How many times a day are you seated? During the commute to and fro, at a desk, at a lunch counter, on the couch at the end of the day?
- What did you have for lunch?
- How many colourless beverages did you consume? (And no, gin and vodka don’t count.)
- How much time did you spend breathing untreated, countryside-quality air?
- How many hours of good sound sleep did you get last night?
The choices we make in these five areas: exercise, food, water, air and slumber, result in the body we have today. For many of us, it is a body heavier than we care to know, more prone to allergies, colds, fatigue, and a suppressed immune system—in short, a body that probably needs a few immediate lifestyle changes. But why? What’s the hurry?
The “why” is the presence of toxins in our system. The hurry is because a third of the Canadian population and at least 60% of our neighbours south of the border are overweight; that’s the politically correct term; actually, the truth is, they are downright obese. If something is not done right away, the unavoidable offshoots, notably diabetes, heart and stroke, cancer and liver disease will tax North American Health Care system to the hilt. In fact, the system is already creaking at the joints in some places, and beyond demise in many.
How did this happen?
It happened thanks to the new Diabetes epidemic on the planet—no, not just in affluent G8 countries, but in the most unexpected of places, in developing countries as well. AIDS tops the list, but Diabetes is running a close second. Not Heart and Stroke, not Cancer, but Diabetes There has been a more rapid increase in Diabetes worldwide since the 1980’s than in the 20 preceding centuries. And, diabetes has opened wide the portals to heart & stroke, cancer, kidney disease, with liver disease just waiting in the wings. A fine scenario indeed for our ailing hospital system!
And how did Diabetes earn pride of place? Easily. Through the good offices of its merry bedfellow, Obesity. Although diabetes and obesity do not always inhabit the same body, they are linked often enough. The phenomenon is now of the greatest concern because so many of our children have Type 2 Diabetes, a disease that was previously found mainly in adults. Alarming statistics emerged in the 1970’s and 1980’s on children who were both overweight and diabetic; and the numbers continued to soar through the ‘90’s. In 1990, 4.9% of the adult American population had diabetes. In 2002 it had risen to 8.7%, with 90% having Type 2. By the end of this decade it is predicted that 1 in 10 Americans will have diabetes, and Canada is not far behind.
We are witnessing two decades of the most overweight generation of children ever, resulting in the first generation that might die before their parents. You have the power to halt or reverse this trend personally, if not globally.
In 1994 Dr. C. Everett Coop, former Surgeon-General of the United States, became the architect of a solution to the problem of childhood obesity. Highlighting the need to create a fitter generation underlined the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and the dangers of obesity. To emphasize the dangers of obesity he coined the term “Diabesity”.
Canada saw this coming and initiated ParticipACTION in 1972. The United States are now creating awareness programs to turn this epidemic around. Ontario, Canada had, in fact, launched a health initiative early on as it could see this coming epidemic. It was in 1972 and they called it ParticipACTION. . If obesity is increasingly evident, can Diabesity be far away? In fact, how many North Americans have even heard of, or even care about a Lifestyle for Longevity™ . How many even acknowledge that diabesity is a concern, in their family, their city, their hospital?
Stand in the lobby of any movie theatre and the real-life statistics will leap out at you as folks rush to get their cholesterol-clogging, butter-loaded “necessities” to wash down with mega-quantities of sugar. It is becoming too obvious to ignore, brought home most poignantly in airplanes, where people are having to shoehorn themselves into seats that were made for passengers half their size—or buy themselves two seats! . Observe the checkout counters in the supermarket, where obese shoppers can be seen wheeling their carts to the till, filled with pseudo-nutrition twenty to forty times removed from their source, stripped of enzymes, but housed in oh-so-attractive packaging. Of greater concern still are the accompanying children, incipiently taking on the same shape as their parents.
Obesity is already taking its toll. It is sabotaging our health care system, throwing out the backs of our nurses who have to move obese patients from gurney to bed, costing the economy in absenteeism, and turning us into sluggish, toxin-powered vehicles. Diabetes is fast gaining ground.
Did you know that 2.4 Canadians currently have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and the number is expected to reach three million by the time the Winter Olympics begin, in 2010? A North American born in 2000 stands a 1 in 3 chance of being diagnosed with diabetes. The more overweight we are, the more fertile the ground for diabetes to develop—Diabesity. The more processed food we ingest, with its colouring, flavour enhancers and hidden sugars, the more our waistlines will increase—Diabesity. The less we exercise, the more lethargic our insides get, the more toxic our bodies become—Diabesity. Personal consequences like heart and stroke, cancer, liver and kidney disease meld with the social and economic ones. Would it, perchance, be time to wake up and take action? Or, do you prefer the slippery slope, gambling with your health daily?
© Jacquelyn Johnston, M.Ed., is a certified professional Health Coach and educator with the expertise and experience to help her personal and corporate clients reach and sustain optimal health and weight. Through her carefully customized programs and weekly supportive coaching calls, clients make the gains–and losses–that are difficult to achieve alone. She has been an active health advocate for more than twenty years. She shares her vast expertise through keynotes, seminars and individual coaching for those ready to lose weight, and those wanting to prevent or manage diabetes, diabesity, liver or heart disease. Get a free report, a complimentary discovery session and more.
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