The diabetes statistics are frightening in our country:

  • 7.8% of our population has diabetes – 23.6 million children and adults. (American Diabetes Association – ADA).
  • 7th leading cause of death (CDC).
  • Significantly increased risk of heart disease (#1 leading cause of death in U.S. according to CDC), hypertension, kidney disease, nerve disease, blindness, amputation and dental disease.
  • $174 billion in medical and associated costs and people with diabetes have 2.3 times more medical costs (American Diabetes Association – ADA, 2007).

Every week I teach people how to effectively manage their diabetes. I’m equally amazed when I see someone successfully managing their diabetes and when I cannot seem to make progress with other patients.

Now that I have scared you, let me inspire you with the story of my friend Murray. Murray is a very young 70-something. He has had diabetes for almost 50 years. When he was first diagnosed he decided to take his disease in his own hands and get in shape! Murray was initially on insulin and 2 or 3 oral medications. Guess what happened when Murray took control? For the next 40 or so years his diabetes was controlled by one pill and of course his diligent testing, food choices and activity. Murray inspires others (including me!) by running and helping local diabetes support groups.

So, what are you going to do about your diabetes?

  • Unlike other diseases, feel very fortunate that you can self-manage diabetes.
  • Your “numbers” are key to a healthier you. Blood glucose is your most important number, and you have a way to be in control. Test your blood sugar levels before meals and 2 hours after to determine how the food you eat, the activity you participate in, medication (if any) you take, and your stress level all affects YOUR BODY. Also, test your blood sugar at bedtime and then in the morning. Knowing your pattern = better control.
  • You have support and hands-on education options. Ask your insurance provider if they cover diabetes education. If diabetes education isn’t covered, take advantage of low cost or free diabetes education at local hospitals or support groups.
  • You have access to diabetes information on the internet such as Diabetes.org, Destination Diabetes, and National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.
  • Take steps to better glucose control, literally! Walk for 30 minutes for 5 days a week as recommended by the ADA. Physical activity of any type can have great benefits to your health and your mind.
  • Losing a little makes a big difference. Healthy body mass can be one of the most significant things you can do to be healthier.
  • You are special! Everyone is unique, and this is especially true for people with diabetes. Speak with your health team to make sure you have a diabetes-self management program to meet your individual needs.
  • Know and discuss your other “numbers” with your doctor. Have an annual checkup including blood work. Keep an eye out for your BUN, creatinine and GFR (kidney results) as well as your triglycerides, HDL and LDL (heart health). With diabetes, your triglycerides tend to be elevated and your HDLs (“good” cholesterol) tend to be low. Ask questions. Don’t self-medicate or jump to your own conclusions. Ask the health professional.
  • You are worth it! Take care of your body, and it will take care of you. Imagine feeling better and having more energy!

Fight the statistics with your “numbers”! Achieve and maintain healthy blood glucose, cholesterol, A1C, and other vital stats – you could live a long vibrant life just like Murray!


NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.

Marci Sloane

Marci Sloane, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE, is a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist and certified diabetes educator. She grew up in NYC where she graduated with a degree in Nutrition and Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University.