Today is World Diabetes Day

Clearly it is not a day of celebration, but rather a day to bring awareness to one of the worlds’ most prevalent and debilitating diseases.

I first recall hearing about diabetes when actress Mary Tyler Moore disclosed that she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes shortly after she launched the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the early 1970s.

Around the same time, one of my high school friends was diagnosed with diabetes and started daily shots of insulin. I remember wondering what caused her diabetes since she was not overweight and did not consume excessive amounts of sugar (which were two misnomers at that time).

Of course we now know that there are primarily 2 types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin enables cells to take in glucose from the blood and use it for energy. Some people are actually born with type 1 diabetes, which is caused by an auto-immune reaction. I have a good friend whose daughter was born with type 1 diabetes. Their family had to make dramatic lifestyle changes to accommodate this, and deal with uncaring and incorrect comments from many people who do not understand the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is of biggest concern because it is preventable. It is often a result of obesity, driven by excessive consumption of sugar, fat and carbohydrates as well as a lack of regular exercise and movement. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of all cases of diabetes.

Did you know that the latest numbers from the World Health Organization indicate that one in 10 people have diabetes? That is more than 347 million people worldwide, making it the 7th leading cause of death in the United States!

For some of the latest research about diabetes, check out this newsletter that I received this morning from Israel 21C (which stands for Israel 21st century).  I have found that some of the most cutting edge research comes out of Israel, so I always voraciously read this weekly electronic newsletter. I encourage you to subscribe. Just enter your email address at the top of the webpage. 

Back to diabetes. If Mary Tyler Moore was my first recollection of diabetes, then Paula Deen is my most recent. I hope Paula Deen uses her platform on the Food Network to change her eating and cooking habits and focus on a healthier lifestyle with more fresh fruits and vegetables and exercise.

Maybe she and Jamie Oliver will join forces?

Think about it!