Poor diet, lack of exercise contribute to diabetes

Published 3:22 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

November is National Diabetes Month. According to the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, more than 20 million Americans have diabetes, and more than 360,000 adults in Alabama have been told they have diabetes.

Obesity and lack of physical activity can contribute to the increase of type 2 diabetes. If you are overweight, now is a great time to lose a small amount of weight and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.

The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) promotes the findings of a major study — that modest weight loss can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Making healthy food choices that are lower in fat and calories and being physically active most days of the week can be keys to weight loss.

Take these small steps to lose weight and lower your risk for type 2 diabetes:

Set a weight loss goal you can meet before starting a weight loss plan. Aim to lose at least 5 to 7 percent of your current weight — that’s 10-14 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds. Keep track of your daily food intake and physical activity in a log book and review it every day to see how you are doing.

Choose a variety of healthy foods. Eat more fruit — fresh, frozen or canned fruits rather than drinking fruit juice for more fiber. Select a mix of colorful vegetables each day. Vegetables of different colors provide different nutrients. Choose dark, leafy greens such as kale, collards and mustard greens; and reds and oranges such as carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers and tomatoes. Drink low-fat or fat-free milk or choose low-fat or fat-free cheese every day. Choose whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, pasta, oatmeal or brown rice every day. Select lean meats and poultry and limit serving sizes to 3 ounces. Vary your protein choices by choosing more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

Strive to become more physically active. Start off slowly. If you are not active, start off with a physical activity for a few minutes or most days of the week. Slowly add more until you reach at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity five days a week.

Build physical activity into your day. Take a brisk walk during lunchtime. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from the stores or your office.

Stretch it out. Avoid stiff or sore muscles or joints by doing light stretches before and more vigorous stretches after physical activity.

Keep at it. The longer you keep at it, the better you’ll feel. Celebrate small successes.

Alabamians are asked to show their support for the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, its national and local partnerships, and all activities designed to reduce the burden and complications of this disease.

Contact us at www.adph.org/diabetes. To get your free copy of NDEP’s materials, call 1-800-438-5383 or visit http://www.ndep.nih.gov.