Yes, Diabetes Can Attack the Young and Healthy

By: KELLY SHERIDAN

Over time, type-2 diabetes has become associated with being overweight and engaging in unhealthy eating habits. Most people who lead healthy, active lifestyles and sport thin frames would never entertain the possibility that they could potentially contract the dangerous disease. Yet even for the health-conscious and athletic, diabetes could be a future diagnosis. Contrary to popular belief, unhealthy weight gain is not the only factor in determining whether an individual will contract type-2 diabetes. Exercise and healthy eating may just not be enough to fight against the deadly disease.

The growing danger of the disease can be summed up in just a few scary statistics. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately one in every nine adults is living with type-2 diabetes, which amounts to 26 million people. This number is appalling in itself; however if the trend continues, one in every three adults will be diabetic by 2050. Hospitalizations related to diabetes have increased as well; the number of people in their thirties being admitted for the disease has doubled in the past decade. Females were 1.3 times more likely to be hospitalized than men. Prediabetes is on the rise as well. About 65 million people over age 20 are living with diabetes’ precursor, a significant increase from the 57 million reported in 2007.

What is scary about this trend is that it is a potential danger to not only the old and overweight, but the young and slim. Even though thin people may appear to be healthy on the outside, their insides may very well be behaving like those of an overweight person. Molecular imaging expert Jimmy Bell, M.D. refers to the state of these individuals as TOFI, or thin outside, fat inside. More commonly known as skinny-fat, this condition is undetectable to any outsider. It occurs when fat that would normally be visible underneath the skin’s surface, in the form of thunder thighs or a muffin-top, attaches itself to the abdominal organs. This fat is much more dangerous than a little belly chub. It could potentially allow inflammatory substances to infect the liver and pancreas. It is also likely to decrease one’s sensitivity to insulin, which is likely to contribute to the development of type-2 diabetes.

In today’s culture, there are a great many young women who are unknowingly putting themselves at risk for developing the disease. Examples of risky behavior include working at desk jobs, neglecting exercise, and attempting to control weight through poor food choices. Exercise is crucial to lowering blood sugar levels, because it causes the muscles to quickly absorb excess glucose. Working out on a regular basis rids the body of visceral fat, the type which could become dangerous if it interferes with the abdominal organs. Women who neglect exercise may also be putting themselves at risk for diabetes by engaging in yo-yo dieting. Rapid weight loss suggests the loss of muscle, which is important for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. When yo-yo dieters inevitably gain the weight back, it is typically in the form of fat, which increases the risk for diabetes.

Daily stress can also be a contributing factor in developing type-2 diabetes. A stressed mind causes the body to produce cortisol, a stress hormone which increases energy. This is not a problem if it happens sporadically, but chronic stress causes constant cortisol production, which can increase blood sugar levels. It can also interfere with fat storage and increase stomach fat. While this may be scary, being that so many young women are stressed out in today’s culture, it is important to remember that exercise is key. Breaking a sweat on a regular basis can help to regulate blood sugar levels and decrease the risk for developing type-2 diabetes.

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