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La Prensa: Diabetes and Weight Management - ¡Si se puede!

by Maria Palafox, MD

Many of us are overweight, one third of Americans or one third of the rest of America, which is medically obese. In the Latino community, it’s even worse—42.5 percent of adults Latinos are obese. Being overweight or obese makes us more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer. These things are preventable by losing weight. You heard me. Preventable.

Guidelines provided by the CDC regarding management of diabetes tell us that losing five to 10 percent of our body weight can be enough to avoid diabetes if we are high risk or pre-diabetic. For diabetics, the same modest weight loss can go a long way to managing sugar levels to avoid complications of diabetes. So let’s do the math. Let’s say you weigh 240 pounds. Ten percent of 240 is 24 pounds; five percent of that is 12 pounds.

That is a very reasonable, achievable goal that sounds a lot easier than saying your New Year’s resolution will be to lose 60 pounds and get down to 180 pounds, your fighting weight in high school. So how are we going to achieve this?

The solution is heartbreaking and simple: burn more calories than you take in. If you can cut out 250-500 calories a day, in a week you will lose half to one pound a week. A 20-ounce bottle of Big Red is about 250 calories; the standard accompaniment, Hot Cheetos, is about 370 calories for the big snack bag. You see where I am going with this.

Exercise has also been proven to decrease the chance of developing diabetes and helping manage blood sugar in those that already have diabetes. Being at work for 10-12 hours a day does not really count as exercise for most of us, even if it’s somewhat physical work.

We all want to work out for an hour daily, but finding that time can be very difficult. How about 10 minutes? Everyone can find 10 minutes in a day; find a couple of 10 minutes and you are off to a great start. Or burn 100 calories at a time! I found this on Pinterest:

40 jumping jacks

30 crunches
20 squats
10 pushups

This is reported to burn 100 calories; do it three times a day every day and you are on your way to losing half a pound to a pound a week.

The bottom line is this: many of us are at risk or already have diabetes. Acting like we don’t know anything about diabetes is only going to shorten our lives.

Losing weight is very hard. Making little changes every day will provide slow but steady improvement in our health in terms of weight loss that will help us avoid the complications of diabetes. Not only that, but you will also see improvement in your blood pressure and you will decrease your risk for certain cancers associated with being overweight, like breast and colon cancer. ¡Si se puede!

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