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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Diabetes My Fault?

Someone recently asked the following question:

I am 27, diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My BMI is around 34. But I donít look obese since I go to the gym regularly. I gained 40 pounds and lost 40 pounds after that. Then I gained weight when I had a knee injury but I managed to lose 20 pounds after that. I am an active person. I used to swim at least 3 or 4 times a week for 40 minutes. Is getting type 2 diabetes my fault? I tried my best these years to prevent diabetes but was shocked with my diagnosis of A1C of 13.

My reply:

Let's start with a one-word answer to your question: No! Diabetes has numerous contributory factors, and it is completely wrong to blame the victim. If someone is telling you that it's your fault, they should read this discussion and rethink their attitude.

Amongst the more important factors in determining whether someone will get type 2 diabetes (T2D) are two that you simply can't do anything about no matter how hard you might try: your genetic background and the aging process. If your family tree has T2D, your chances of inheriting the disease is pretty high.

And, T2D is more common the older you get. Thereís not much you can do about that, either. (BTW, it used to be thought that T2D was a disorder affecting folks over 40, but it's now clear that it can happen in kids and teens and 20-somethings, as well.)

Let's go on to your other concerns: weight and physical activity. Being overweight is a risk factor for T2D. Your BMI (body mass index) is definitely high, and this puts you at a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Losing weight is hard, as you're very much aware, but will be part of your diabetes treatment plan. There are lots of suggestions as to how to lose weight and keep the pounds off, but I'll mention only one: You should have your meal plan reviewed with a knowledgeable diabetes dietitian, preferably one with the CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) credential.

Exercise is always recommended, and it's great to see that you consider yourself an active person. You and your diabetes team may want to reassess how much and how often you exercise, but keep it up!

As you are aware, your A1C of 13 is diagnostic of diabetes. In people without diabetes, it should be below 5.7 percent. With hard work, medications, regular BG monitoring and a bit of luck, you'll find your A1C will plummet into lower numbers and stay there.

One last point: Every time you check a BG level, you'll hold your breath and wonder what the number will be. And every time someone nags you about something about your diabetes, it'll take strength to understand their concerns and accept their advice without bitterness or rancor. Yes, your diabetes is going to be a continuous hassle, and can be discouraging and sometimes downright depressing. But, that discouragement and depression should never be about whose fault it is; it's simply a situation that you have, and that you can, and will, live with.

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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This page was new at D-is-for-Diabetes February 22, 2016

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