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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Obesity and Diabetes

Obesity and Diabetes
Doctors and researchers have found that obesity and diabetes are connected. Persons who are obese are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes (also known as "insulin-resistant" or "adult-onset" diabetes), particularly if a close family member is affected with diabetes. Therefore, it becomes very important to maintain a healthy body weight throughout your life in order to protect yourself from developing a chronic disease like diabetes.
As nurses associated with the Genetics of the Acadian People projects, we have been asked questions at public forums concerning obesity and diabetes. The following is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions, together with our answers and advice.
Is obesity caused by a specific genetic defect?
Researchers have not yet discovered a specific gene that causes obesity, although several genes are considered to be important in playing a part. However, we have come to understand that a person's genetic make-up can result in a predisposition to becoming obese. This means that a person may be particularly susceptible to becoming obese through experiencing risk factors in their life, like high calorie or high fat diets and lack of exercise. Your genetic make-up, which you have inherited from your parents, may contribute to your general body type, including how and where your body deposits fat in certain places such as buttocks or thighs. There seems to be a strong connection between abdominal fat and diabetes
What, then, is the major cause of obesity?
The environment plays a much larger role in a person's likelihood of becoming obese than does any specific gene. By "environment," we mean not only what the outside world does to a person's body but also what enters a person's body through eating and drinking. The two main factors that can cause obesity are a diet high in fat and a lack of exercise. In Louisiana, like elsewhere in America, we think that we have many people who are obese for these two reasons.
Everybody in my family is fat. Can I assume that I am predisposed to being obese? Not necessarily. Genetics play a small role in body weight. The most important factors will be the foods that you eat every day and the amount and type of exercise you do.
How do I know if I am overweight or obese when all of my family is heavy? Dieticians have developed a formula to calculate a number, called your BMI (Body Mass Index), which they use to make this decision. The formula is:
BMI = Weight/height2 x 703
(Weight measured in pounds and height measured in inches)
For Instance, a six-foot tall person (6 x 12= 72 inches) who weighs 210 pounds would have a BMI of
= 210 / (72)2 x 703
= 28.48
The following numbers are good indicators of whether are not you are overweight.
Underweight = BMI of 19.8 or less
Normal Weight = BMI of 26.0
overweight = BMI of 26.0-29.0
obese = BMI over 29.0
How can I determine if my diet is causing obesity in my family and myself? One good way to find out is to keep a food diary for a week. You should write down the time, the amount, and the type of food you eat throughout the day. Be sure to include liquids as well as solid food, such as beer, soft drinks, fruit juices, etc. You will need to write down the fat grams and calories for each food item. Add these up each day. If the amounts are too high, then you can be fairly sure that your diet is a factor in causing obesity in yourself and in your family.
What is "too high"? How many calories and fat grams can I eat every day and not gain weight? This number may vary according to your gender, age and body frame. However, there are some guidelines developed by professionals that may help you determine how much to eat to maintain an ideal weight. In general, an adult woman should eat about 1500 calories a day and an adult male about 2500 calories. Your diet should not have more than 35% fat, which is about 35 grams of fat each day. If you are interested in determining your caloric and fat gram needs, you can refer to the many reference books and pamphlets available, or you could ask your health care provider. We have provided some web site addresses at the end of this chapter where you can obtain this information