LA survey reveals increase in diabetes

A survey released by the Los Angeles County of Public Health shows that the number of adults with diabetes in LA increased approximately from seven to 10 percent since 1997, an overall 50 percent increase.

“You have certain ethnic groups that have a greater risk,” says Franco Reyna, associate director at the American Diabetes Association, Los Angeles. “A lot of these people are living in conditions that put them at risk.”

Reyna is referring to people from families with a history of diabetes, and those who live with obese family members. He also mentions that people who live in poorer neighborhoods are more likely to develop diabetes due to bad diets and lack of exercise.

“Being in the city, there isn’t a park to exercise at, [and] there isn’t a market to get healthy food from,” says Reyna, who recommends “becoming aware of the disease and its impact, especially if you are at risk.”

According to the ADA, five percent of people with diabetes have type one diabetes, usually occurring in children and young adults. In this case, the body does not produce insulin that is needed to convert sugar into energy.

"Type one is more a freak thing," says Danielle Westbrook, 18, an SMC student who was diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of eight.

With type one diabetes, the pancreas usually fails, and the body may depend on insulin to prevent the body from slipping into a coma, she says.

Type two, the most common form of diabetes, means that cells in the body are not responding to insulin properly; or that the body is not producing enough insulin.

“All of the body is affected by diabetes, and the danger is really hyperglycemia, which is high blood sugar,” says Dr. Eric Kavussin, chief of the division of health and performance enhancement at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana.

"This high blood sugar causes deleterious effects on protein, and causes microvascular disease (loss of small vessels to the eye, foot, kidney) or cardiovascular problems and atherosclerosis," Kavussin states in an e-mail.

Preventing the onset of diabetes may be as hard as watching what food to eat, but it can also be as easy as incorporating a healthier lifestyle.

“I didn’t completely restrict myself, but I did limit the sweets,” says Westbrook. “Even if I went to a kid's party, I had that voice in the back of my head.“

Westbrook suggests to those who drive to school to park a little farther away and walk the extra distance.

"Exercise doesn't cost anything," he says.

Elizabeth MossComment