Jill Hillhouse

Diabetes Awareness Month – So What?

image-diabetes-awareness-monthYes, my book The Paleo Diabetes Diet Solution has just recently been published so shouldn’t I be a bit more excited about diabetes awareness month?

Here’s why I’m not.

When there is an awareness campaign about any disease (diabetes, breast cancer, movember, etc.) it focuses us on the disease state and how to treat the disease once we have it. As a result, it pulls us away from looking at the disease from the perspective of prevention.

Part of this year’s diabetes awareness campaign is an online quiz that you can take to determine your type 2 diabetes risk score. It asks you 11 questions about your demographics, BMI, activity level, blood pressure, blood sugar, fruit and vegetable consumption, relatives with type 2 diabetes, your ethnic group and your level of education. Indeed, all of these are risk factors in one way or another for type 2 diabetes. But the biggest risk factor is missing. There are no questions about how much added sugar we consume every day or how many servings of bread, pasta, rice or cereal we eat. These are by far the biggest contributors to increased blood sugar and increased insulin. These are the questions that need to be asked.

So when Rick Blickstead, the president of the Canadian Diabetes Association says that “knowing the risk factors for diabetes will provide Canadians with information to act and potentially lower their risk, in consultation with their primary care provider”, why is it that the major risk factor – the amount of added sugar and starch we eat – is not part of the risk assessment quiz? I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer, even if I do have a few theories.

Addressing our intake of added sugar and refined grains is the key to real awareness about type 2 diabetes, what causes it and how to go about fixing it. This is what I am excited about. Helping people understand blood sugar, how it works in the body and how what we eat directly and immediately affects it.

The food we eat is the single most important influence on our health. Understanding this is true awareness.

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