Want to add 2190 more lunch dates to your life!?

Or how about 2190 more sunsets?

Or 2190 more days with your children, grandchildren, lover or best friend.

Of course you would!  Who wouldn’t!?

Well, it turns out that that’s how many days are in 6 years, the number of years your life will be cut short if you develop diabetes.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times a while back, a 50 year old ” … will lose an average of six years of life as a result of the disease, only one year less than the seven that would be lost by a smoker of the same age.”

“He or she is more than twice as likely to die of cardiovascular disease as someone without diabetes and 25% more likely to die of cancer … and are more likely to die from kidney disease, liver disease, pneumonia, infectious diseases and even intentional self-harm.”

Wow.  That’s brutal. While it’s been known for some time that diabetes effects mortality, the international study of more than 820,000 people recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine for the first time puts a hard number on the life-price of the disease.

Talk about use it or lose it!

The culprit?   “Lifestyle factors”, according to Wikipedia.

Hereditary factors cannot be ignored, but inappropriate diet and insufficient physical activity levels are the leading causes of unhealthy body weights and, eventually, diabetes.

Hereditary influences, of course cannot be changed. You’ll simply need to play the hand you’ve been dealt.

But Lifestyle factors … your physical activity levels, when, where, and how you exercise, and what you eat … are things you can control.

How to fix it?

Well, if you ask a fitness professional, the answer is pretty easy: you need to exercise more and eat better! But asking a fitness professional about fitness is sorta like asking a car salesman if you need a new car.  Or a surgeon if you need surgery.

So don’t believe me!

Believe, instead the 43 PhDs, MDs, MPHs, RDs, and BFDs who put together the USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.   Produced every 5 years, the 2010 version reveals some startling truths about who we are:

  • 72% of men and 64% of women in the USA are either overweight or obese, with about one third being obese
  • 32% of children are overweight or obese, with 17% being obese.
  • Nearly 24 million Americans … almost 11% … yes, more than one in ten … have diabetes.
  • Another 78 million (35% of the adult US population) have pre-diabetes (elevated glucose levels, but levels not quite high enough to be called diabetes).

Obesity Then and Now

In the early 1970s the prevalence of obesity for adolescents 12 to 19 years was 6%.  In 2008, the prevalence of obesity for 12 to 19 year olds was 18% (triple).

In the late 1970s, 15% of adults were obese.  In 2008, 34% of adults were obese.  (double)

In the early 1990s,  ZERO states had an adult obesity percentage above 25%.  In 2008, 32 states had an adult obesity prevalence of 25% or more.  THIRTY TWO STATES are now home to where more than one in four American Adults are obese.

Lifestyle factors make the difference, and professional are available to help.

Wanna do even one better?

Don’t just maintain low body fat to add 6 years to your life, but lower your resting heart rate and pick up another two!

A few years ago, I actually did the math: lowering your resting heart rate (yes, this will involve exercise) by just 2 beats per minute will actually ADD ANOTHER TWO years to your life!

Maybe it’s time to put Fitness Reform into Health Care Reform?

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