"Because there has been a rise in the
number of obese teens, we're seeing more cases of type 2 diabetes
and we're seeing more of these problems with people earlier -- in
their 40s as opposed to their 60s," says Chapman-Novakofski. "We're
also seeing what's referred to as 'mature onset' in youth younger
There's also a condition known as
pre-diabetes, which means that the blood glucose levels are between
normal and a diagnosis of the disease. "A person's physician may
tell them that they have found ‘some sugar’ in the urine or blood.
If people are at this stage of pre-diabetes, it's the time to make
some lifestyle and diet changes before the condition develops into
full-blown diabetes -- decrease calories, lose weight and increase
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney
failure, blindness and amputation in adults. It is a disorder in
which the body's cells fail to take up glucose from the blood.
Tissues waste away as glucose-starved cells are forced to consume
their own proteins.
"Almost all of the increased cases in
the last decade have been in the 85 percent of diabetics who suffer
from type 2, or 'adult-onset' diabetes," says Chapman-Novakofski.
"These individuals lack the ability to use the hormone insulin
effectively." Chapman-Novakofski says there have been major
breakthroughs in genetic research concerning the familial clustering
of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, although much more research is
needed to understand how insulin "signals" to a cell and how the
insulin receptor works at the molecular level.
Chapman-Novakofski says she's in the
business of helping people change their lifestyles in order to
improve their health, particularly with respect to diabetes. She has
adapted and modified the content for a program called Dining with
Diabetes. It's a statewide Extension program that was first
developed at the University of West Virginia. "So far about 3,000
people in Illinois have participated in the three daylong sessions,"
she says. "It focuses on teaching people how to cook meals that are
healthy. And, they get to taste the meals and verify that they
actually taste good too."
Participants in the program are given a
pre-test and a post-test in order to evaluate their understanding
and commitment to change their diet. "Some people don't know much at
all about how what they eat affects their diabetes, so they need to
be made more aware. Some are at the I-need-to-do-something stage but
don't know where to start. Some may have already purchased a
cookbook for diabetics and some may have already attempted to make
changes in their life style."
People tend to make changes in life
based on how bad they think it is -- how susceptible they are to
disease, says Chapman-Novakofski. "Teens believe they are
invincible, and going blind in 40 years, which can happen if their
diabetes is not controlled, is hard for them to imagine happening.
Adults tend to think of the barriers to change -- money, time or
energy -- so we try to show them ways to overcome those barriers.
"It's especially important for people
with diabetes to be able to identify which foods are high in
carbohydrates and which foods are high in calories," she says.
Carbohydrates have a greater effect on blood glucose than protein or
fat alone. It's important for people to know which foods those are.
It is also important to maintain calories at a constant level so
that weight isn't going up. Too many calories also will cause blood
glucose to rise.
The symptoms of diabetes are increased
thirst and urination, sometimes a sudden change in weight, and
blurred vision. For more information about diabetes, visit
[to top of second column
in this article]
Take the Dining
with Diabetes test
Over 3,000 people in Illinois have
participated in a three-day-long Illinois Extension program called
Dining with Diabetes. Participants take the pre-test below in order
to evaluate their understanding and commitment to change their diet.
Try taking the test yourself to see how much you know. Answers can
be found below.
The following questions ask what you
know about certain foods.
1. Check each of the foods that are
sources of carbohydrate:
___ Hamburger patty
___ Orange Juice
___ Olive Oil
2. Check the sweetener that loses its
sweet taste in baking.
___ Aspartame (Nutrasweet)
___ Saccharin (Sweet 'n Low)
___ Acesulfame Potassium (Sweet One)
___ Sucralose (Splenda)
3. When two kinds of artificial
sweeteners are used together, they are much sweeter than when either
is used alone.
4. Do you know how to use the Food
Guide Pyramid for daily meal planning?
5. Which one of the following is not
usually printed on the Nutrition Facts Label on packaged foods?
___ Total fat
6. Check all of the following foods
that are high in saturated fat.
___ Olive oil
___ Corn oil
7. Check all of the following foods
that are high in monounsaturated fat.
___ Olive oil
___ Corn oil
8. Which type of fat is usually printed
on the Nutrition Facts Label?
___ Total fat
___ Monounsaturated fat
___ Saturated fat
___ Polyunsaturated fat
9. Check all of the following reasons
that fiber is important in the diet.
___ To provide a quick source of energy
___ To help the body get rid of some of the cholesterol we eat
___ To help slow down absorption of glucose
1. Apple, cookie, bread, potato, milk,
orange juice, sugar
2. Aspartame (Nutrasweet)
6. Butter, lard
7. Olive oil, corn oil
8. Total fat
provide roughage, to help the body get rid of some of the
cholesterol we eat, to help slow down absorption of glucose
[University of Illinois news release]