You might think that people with type 2 diabetes would know better than most what they should put into and leave out of their diets. At least, that was the expectation of researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, when they set out to learn why people with type 2 are often overweight. What they found, however, surprised them. Their study of 2,757 type 2s showed that:
- 93 percent exceeded the recommended daily percentage of calories from fat
- 85 percent exceeded the recommended level of saturated fat
- 92 percent consumed too much sodium
- Fewer than half ate the daily servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid
- On average, they obtained 44 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, 40 percent from fat, and 17 percent from protein
The researchers, who published their findings in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, had expected type 2 patients to be more aware of dietary pitfalls than people without diabetes. “It would seem likely that participants who had managed diabetes over a greater length of time would be more likely to understand the importance of consuming a healthful diet, but this was not supported by the data,” they wrote.
To better understand the underlying reasons for their discouraging findings, the researchers would like to investigate the impediments that people with type 2 diabetes encounter when trying to maintain a healthy diet. At this time, however, they advised ongoing nutrition education for people with type 2 diabetes, regardless of how long they’ve had the disease. Good eating habits, as well as exercise and medications, should be considered a vital part of type 2 treatment, they said.