Diabetes is a life-long disease affecting how your body handles glucose, a kind of sugar, in your blood. Type 1 diabetes is genetic and the exact cause is not well understood. Most diabetes is type 2, and 27 million people in the U.S. are living with it. Nearly 90 million have prediabetes. This means their blood glucose is not normal, but it is not high enough to be diabetes yet.
There are numerous causes of diabetes. One of them is excess weight or obesity. Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes is now affecting children and teenagers, mainly because of childhood obesity. Obesity is a chronic condition that has become a pandemic. In 2013 at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association, physicians voted overwhelmingly to categorize obesity as “a disease that requires a range of interventions to advance treatment and prevention”. The simplest definition of what it means to be obese is a person who has too much body fat. It is not the same as being overweight, which means weighing too much. Some persons, including athletes, can be overweight from extra muscle or bone. An indicator for obesity is the body mass index (BMI). In the United States, 36% of adults are obese. A BMI above 35 with obesity-related health conditions or a BMI above 40 are considered morbidly obese. A rule of thumb is morbid obesity is a condition of weighing double or more a person’s ideal weight. It is called morbidly obese because it correlates with numerous serious and life-threatening conditions.
Obesity has a large economic effect in the United States. Three percent of the population are considered morbidly obese, but the treatment of the condition and related healthcare costs represent 21% of healthcare spending. Obesity is a serious problem beyond the condition itself. Comorbidity is two or more coexisting medical conditions. Serious comorbidities, impaired quality of life, higher mortality, and inability to be productive in the labor force are significant inhibitors to the country’s positive growth and development.
Obesity has numerous causes, but it is clear eating less and exercising more can be quite helpful. Curtis Duggan, an entrepreneur in Canada, has started a company called Blue Mesa to focus on the prediabetic problem. The company offers a remote digital diabetes prevention program. Consumers who enroll in the Blue Mesa program receive a FitBit, a digital scale, and a smartphone app which acts as a coach. Early results are encouraging. Listen to an excellent podcast with Curtis here. Also, Read more about obesity in Health Attitude.