A Pill for Everything

A while back, a friend of mine who is veryoverweight went to see his doctor and wasfound to have an A1C of over 9%. He also hadhigh blood pressure, abnormal cholesterollevels and arthritic knees.

“You have type 2 diabetes,” said his doctor.And just like clockwork, my friend was told,“Go on a diet and lose weight. And, here aresome prescriptions for diabetes, cholesteroland arthritis medications.”

My friend went on a diet and took all thedrugs he was prescribed. After severalmonths, he returned to see his doc. HisA1C had decreased by almost 2 percentagepoints, his blood pressure and cholesterolnumbers had improved and the arthritismeds had helped relieve his knee pain.

But my friend was still obese.

“Well, I guess you have a death wish,” hisdoctor said, critically.

His doctor hadn’t told him that one of thediabetes drugs he was taking caused weightgain.

And his doctor hadn’t referred him to adiabetes self-management educationprogram.

Is Losing Weight the Right Prescription?

For this issue, Dara Mayers has written “IsDieting Bad for You?”. The article addresses the controversy overwhether dieting and weight loss are reallythe right prescription for improved health.

It’s an interesting debate. Weight-loss dietshave huge failure rates and can lead to thedeterioration of one’s health. So instead ofsimply advising patients to “lose weight,”why don’t our doctors emphasize othercritical steps we can take to improve ourhealth, such as:

  • Eating healthfully
  • Developing an effective exercise program and sticking to it
  • Controlling blood glucose
  • Improving lipid profiles
  • Staying free of complications

Some of us can achieve these goals withoutlosing a single pound, though gradualweight loss could be a natural side effect ofimproving our diet and being more active.

Exercise—The Magic Pill

There was an article in the November 29,2004, issue of Forbes magazine concerningour obsession with taking a pill for everycondition. The article mentioned that severalof these conditions can be improved simplyby exercising more.

Exercise is beneficial for so many things,including diabetes, obesity, high bloodpressure and high cholesterol.

But how many doctors, instead of teachingus to integrate regular exercise in our lives,simply push the latest and greatest pill? Iknow that our doctors don’t have the timeto be their patients’ exercise coaches, butwhy not refer patients who need this typeof counseling and education to diabetesself-management programs; to nursesand dietitians who are certified diabeteseducators; to exercise programs staffedby exercise physiologists; and to otherresources, such as support groups?

Type 1 Teen Has Fun and ImprovesHis Control

Michael Twede, a type 1 teen from Utah, hasbeen playing a video game to improve hisdiabetes control. After just a few months ofplaying Dance Dance Revolution, Michael’sA1Cs have improved almost 2 percentagepoints.

For type 1s and type 2s, Michael Twede’sstory shows how exercise can help us reduceour chances of getting complications bylowering our average glucose levels. Forsome type 2s, exercise may actually reversethe diabetes completely.

See “Video Game Improves OneTeen’s Diabetes”.

Scott King
Type 1, 30 years (and counting)

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