Look! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. Nope. It’s just another diabetes myth.

There are many myths about diabetes out there. We’ve all heard them and they sometimes sound so real that it’s hard not to believe them. However, it is important that we put those rumours to rest and lay down some truth.

Myth: Only obese/overweight people get diabetes.

The truth: Anyone can get diabetes.

This condition comes in two types. Type One diabetes is the result of genetic abnormalities and other unknown factors. The body does not make insulin and therefore blood sugars can become elevated easily. It usually manifests in children and young adults and persists throughout the lifetime.

In Type Two diabetes, the body makes insulin but cannot use it. This also causes blood sugars to become elevated and manifests itself in people of all ages.

There are several non-modifiable factors that may make one more likely to develop this type of diabetes, including family, history and age.

Other risk factors can be modifiable, such as high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, obesity and physical inactivity.

Being overweight or obese does increase the risk of developing diabetes, but it does not guarantee a diagnosis (can the church say “Amen”?). In fact, of the 69 percent of Americans who are overweight, only 10 percent of that population has diabetes. This is not to say that maintaining a healthy weight is not important. It is!

In overweight and obese people, weight loss of up to 15 pounds can lower the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent (now slowly back away from the gallon of sweet tea).

Exercise, diet

Here are some things that you can do to lower your risk.

Exercising for two and a half hours a week can help you make small but significant changes in your weight that can be beneficial in reducing risk factors for diabetes. Some activities are walking, cycling, yoga and strength training. If you haven’t been exercising, that’s okay. Start slowly and build your way up. But get moving.

Eating well balanced meals that include whole grains and complex carbohydrates as opposed to refined carbohydrates is also helpful. Also, if possible, avoid sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, sweet teas and energy drinks.

Making healthy choices and engaging in an active lifestyle can do wonders for your health and may very well save your life.

More information can be found on the websites of the American Diabetes Association, the Obesity Society and the American Heart Association.

Look! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. Nope. It’s just another person who knows the facts about diabetes!


Ms. Matthew is a registered dietitian nutritionist.