Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Diabetes, the last one

This series could have 12 posts or more, but I promised no medical texts, so let this be the last.

Diabetes seems to be more and more prevalent in our society, and seems to be striking at an ever younger age. Is it the result of obesity, brought on by childhood inactivity and junk food? Or is the obesity brought on by the disease? Whichever, it seems to be becoming 'way too common today.

I have always thought - and some of you will think this too harsh - that allowing your children become obese by letting the TV and Playstation be their nanny, and by letting them fend for themselves food-wise, is an actual form of child abuse. A trip to the fast food joint on the way home from work is no substitute for a balanced meal. Giving in to their whining to play video games is the easy way out and takes less effort than a trip to the park or going camping on weekends. I can't make you do the right thing.

Our ancestors walked behind horses all day plowing fields. They still mostly died in their 60s, although of course there were many exceptions. So, I don't know. But there weren't many fat farmers or factory workers, and the pictures I've seen of schoolchildren standing in front of one-room schools for their obligatory class photo didn't show many fat children.

Maybe it is just the changing times. Gym memberships are legion, but the fat continues to mount. No time to walk, no time to play, no time to prepare nutritious meals.

Instead of going on and on about the insidious monster called diabetes, I am only going to warn you of what our future might hold. Please stand up and turn off the TV. Please go for a walk. Please take up a vigorous sport and keep at it your entire life.

My grandfather had a saying, my father said, that everyone should remember: the best exercise is to exercise your forearms by pushing yourself away from the table.

There is no other disease, save heart disease, that I can think of right now whose prevention is more in your own hands.


  1. As to your last comment, try the side effects of smoking.

    Interestingly enough, I worked (physically) hard my whole life until adulthood - it didn't give me a love for it. Just sayin'. But my children love swimming and I got a pool for them so I'm trying to work in the right direction.

  2. Coincidentally, this morning in the post came something from one of the many (why so many?) cancer research charities. It advocated almost precisely the same set of preventative measures to avoid cancers: healthy diet, healthy weight, take exercise. So it's good advice all round.

    I'm going to add a but, though. There is a genetic factor, isn't there? You are at higher risk if a close relative has/had type 2 diabetes, it seems. You have me reading up on it now.

  3. Some things have changed which make exercise for children more of an issue than they used to be. When I was young, and my children too, we had houses with gardens for playing in. Nowadays, in much of urban Europe at least, more and more children grow up in flats and apartments without gardens. We used to walk to school and to visit friends - that's no longer considered safe. At much the same time, in the UK, the requirement for compulsory physical education at school has been whittled down to 90 minutes a week.

    It all means more of an effort has to be made to be active. Eating healthily, on the other hand, doesn't necessarily need a great deal of effort. It can do, but it doesn't have to.

  4. We used to eat healthier out of necessity. Cooking food was more challenging (taking all day involving hard labor) and meat, for the low and even middle classes, was a rarity. People ate vegetables and bread because it's what they had.

    Ditto for exercise. It used to be part and parcel for hard work to be part of the deal for the working class. You didn't choose to walk everywhere; you had no choice.

    Depending, of course, on how far you go back.

  5. @Stephanie B - Right. I guess, now that you mention it, there are a LOT of things we have control over but don't do it until it is too late, or very late. So true.

    And exercise used to be automatic, as you say. Walking, at least.

    @A. - Diet and exercise are the first line of defense against many major ills. But, yes, you must also choose your parents carefully. :)

    You make a good point. An hour a day at least used to be the norm in school PhysEd classes, 4 or 5 days a week. Plus sports after school. Plus walking home usually. Much has changed in all those things.

    Gardens are for growing flowers and vegetables. Just when I start to get you Americanized a little, you start sliding backwards again. Try to pay attention.

  6. So you go playing in yards? You graze your knees in yards. You'll never Americanise me. Well maybe [perhaps] a little. :)

  7. Yards are grassy plots and gardens are for veggies, of which I do not like much. Eating right, exercise all sounds good, but it really sucks. I know I am a smart ass.

  8. The kids and I have been going to the city pool a couple of times a week. We actually get in the water and swim. Very few other people do. Even the kids. I am 47, having given birth to 2 kids after age 40, and my body did not recover from those events as well as it might have perhaps in my 20s. And yet I am still in better shape than 75% of the TEENAGERS who frequent the pool, including several of the lifeguards. I would not want to count on most of them being able to swim the length of the pool. And we won't even get into the number of people carrying 100+ excess pounds and wearing bikinis. And seriously obese LITTLE KIDS. Yet, what is on offering at the snack bar? Deep fried Oreos. I'm not kidding.
    So I'm thinking, at least they're outside, not watching TV or playing video games. But no one is swimming, and they're eating the most god-awful stuff imaginable. It doesn't count as exercise if YOU DON'T ACTUALLY MOVE AROUND!

    I'm sorry, was that too much. This is what happens when I don't blog for a month.



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