Diabetes and Obesity

Written by Lizi’s Granola Co-Founder Mick Shaw. 

Diabetes and Obesity are in the news again. Today, many UK dailies are reporting a claim by Tim Marsh of The National Heart Forum that by 2040 half of the UK male population will be obese and that the annual cost to the NHS of treating obesity related disease, mostly diabetes, could soar to £320 billion.

There seems to be no stopping the rise in illnesses related to obesity, which have seen a 350% increase in the last 50 years. But the cause is well known and the cure available to all. Lifestyle: lifestyle is the cause, and changing lifestyle the cure. It’s pretty clear that the human body is singularly badly adapted to an existence of: bed, car, office chair, car, sofa, bed whilst a mountain of readily available food passes by. But at the same time we are genetically programmed to consume what food we can find and avoid unnecessary work in finding it. That was a very successful strategy for homo-sapiens in our pre-industrial past but now seems to be the very opposite of what we need to be doing to live a healthy life.

I’ve been re-reading an article published a couple of years ago by Weber et al in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. They show that type 2 diabetes can be prevented and indeed treated by a very simple intervention: diet and exercise. The research has been done. It works; it’s very simple and it costs nothing. I don’t suppose the drug companies want to hear that. But would we rather take drugs and undergo stomach surgery rather than make the effort to exercise more and eat less? We may by biologically programmed to take the easy way out, but we’re also rational creatures and it’s not difficult to work out that the effort is worth it.

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