No More Excuses: Managing the Health Crisis

In the battle against obesity and diabetes, Dr. Reed Tuckson says we can win. He’s attacking from all sides

The third thing we’ve learned is that the economic consequences of diabetes are devastating to America in general and the black community in particular. According to the CDC, one out of every five healthcare dollars is spent caring for someone who has diabetes. Now that is really frightening, because if you think about black businesses and black employees trying to afford the ever-increasing healthcare costs, imagine what this is going to do to the ability to afford healthcare—either offered by black businesses or being affordable to the individual.

What are some of the risk factors with those who have pre-diabetes?
Weight, diet, and exercise. There is a clear relationship between the foods we eat—[foods] high in sugars and calories—and whether or not we are exercising.

What is the prognosis for those who actually have diabetes?
The good news is if we are attentive and vigilant, we can learn to live with this disease and live without significant diabetes-related complications. Individuals with diabetes have to be attentive to their diet. They have to be attentive to their exercise routine. And for those who require medication—oral medicine or insulin injections—attentively following their treatment regimen can result in longevity. The way we measure glucose levels in the body is through a count called HbA1c—hemoglobin A1c, a commonly used blood test that monitors blood sugar control over a three-month period. We know that for every percentage point drop in HbA1c levels, we reduce the risk of complications such as kidney disease, eye disease, or nerve disease by 40%. That’s a good news story! On the one hand, I’ve given you statistics that if you can get your weight down, you have enormous opportunity to decrease your chances of ever getting the disease; and on the other hand, if you’re unfortunate enough to develop diabetes, you can reduce the complications by controlling the disease.

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