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Audrey Taul wasn’t completely caught off guard when her doctor
diagnosed her with Type 2 diabetes five years ago at age 40. “My
grandmother, mother and aunt had it, and over the years, my
doctor had tested me,” she recalls. Left untreated, diabetes can
lead to life-threatening problems, including heart and kidney
disease, stroke, nerve damage and blindness.
“I had none of the classic symptoms, such
as increased thirst, having to go to the
bathroom a lot, tingling in the fingers or
losing feeling,” Audrey recalls. Yet, the
official diagnosis meant Audrey had to make
some changes to improve her health. “For
me, the hardest change was that I had to
stop drinking Coke®. I used to drink three
or four cans a day.” While Audrey’s weight
was normal at first, over the years, she began to gain weight.
Because added weight could make it more likely she would need
to take insulin, Audrey worked to lose the added pounds.
Weight Matters
“If people are motivated to make changes to improve their
health, even losing five to 10 pounds can make the difference
needed to get off diabetes medication,” says Kimberly Baker-
Genaw, M.D., Internal Medicine, Henry Ford Medical Group
“A recent article in the
New England Journal of Medicine
says
average Americans gain a pound a year as they age. It’s related
to lack of activity and that extra 100 calories a day … a soda … a
handful of potato chips. A pound a year from age 30 to 50 makes
a normal-weight person 20 pounds overweight.”
Extra weight is also, of course, a risk factor for developing Type
2 diabetes in the first place. “With the growing obesity epidemic
we’re seeing, men, women and children all getting diabetes at
an earlier age,” Dr. Baker-Genaw adds. “Ninety percent of people
who have Type 2 diabetes are obese. And because obesity is
so common, our perception of who is obese has changed. The
next time you visit your doctor, check your weight against a
Body Mass Index chart. If you are in the overweight or obese
categories, your doctor will most likely discuss the risks of
diabetes with you.”
Diagnosis: Diabetes
HAP RESOURCES
For support to manage weight and
diabetes, you can access the following
programs at
hap.org
. After you log in as
a member, you will find these programs
on the
My Health & Wellness
tab.
CareTrack™
(800) 288-2902
Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
iStrive™ for better health
Take the
Balance
SM
for weight
management or
CARE™ for Diabetes
program.
Weight Watchers®
HAP members receive special rates. Be
sure to mention you’re a HAP member.
Wise Health
8
Audrey lost 20 pounds last year. “I feel so
much better now. I eat more salads, fresh
veggies and a wider variety of fruits,” she says.
“Keeping your weight down is the only thing
you can do to counteract what you know is in
your family history,” agrees Dr. Baker-Genaw.
“Be aware of your own health. In our 40s and
50s, we’re busy, and we don’t devote enough
time to doing that. Exercise should be like
brushing your teeth – you have to make a daily
habit of doing what you need to do in order to
maintain a healthy weight.”
Audrey Taul