The Growing Risk of Diabetes and Heart Disease – A Cautionary Tale
With some studies saying that the average person consumes 7,000 calories on Christmas Day alone, this isn’t generally a time of year that people pay much consideration to their diet. But the endless supply of chocolates, snacks, mince pies and festive drinks has a hefty downside, with the average Briton likely to gain 6lbs in the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. And with more than nine in ten women in their 50s and 60s being at risk of heart disease and diabetes because of too much ‘tummy fat’ and 75% of men in the same age bracket sharing the same problem, people should be aware of these facts during the festive period.
Some of the facts about type 2 diabetes and heart problems
Men with a waist of 40in or more are classed as obese. For women, it is 34in. Having a large waist can mean extra fat is stored around the organs, which could lead to type 2 diabetes. Since 1990, deaths of people suffering from type 2 diabetes in the 50 to 70 age range are up 97 per cent in men and 57 per cent in women. A recent study by Cambridge University suggests that being unable to store excess fat safely in the body increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. People with fat storage problems can end up with fat accumulating in and around the liver, pancreas and muscles – where it causes insulin resistance and could lead to type 2 diabetes.
Latest figures showed that nearly half of men and more than a third of women in the age 50 – 60 bracket were considered overweight, and this rate jumped dramatically when adjusted to use a raised waist circumference – 40in or 102cm in men and 34.5in or 88cm in women.
How can we limit the risk to our health?
So how can the risk of diabetes be limited? Obesity and weight gain is one of the strongest risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Following a balanced, healthy diet, managing portion sizes and keeping track of total daily calorie intake are all vital for maintaining a healthy weight. And achieving this can pay off. Studies have shown that losing just 5 to 7 percent of body weight can help improve blood glucose control and delay or even potentially prevent type 2 diabetes.
In addition to helping you maintain a healthy body weight, increasing physical activity can also help decrease your risk of diabetes along with many other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers, and high blood pressure. Finding a form of exercise that can easily fit into your daily routine and that you enjoy, will increase your chances of making it a lifelong habit.
Although this is an important cautionary tale, remember, it is essential that you enjoy the festive period without feelings of guilt and regret. Enjoy the holiday and the company of your friends and loved ones. Then, after the holiday season, try to make small changes to your diet and if you can incorporate a little more exercise into your routine, all the better!