Featured Interview

My guest is Chrystal from L.A.. She is just one of many positive diabetics making a huge difference in the diabetes community. She is a chemist, and diabetic activist. After Chrystal's diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in November 2007, she created SexyDiabetic.com; and donates a good portion of her time connecting and sharing experiences, both inside and outside the online diabetic communities.

Chrystal has shared with us her personal experiences living with diabetes; her role in the diabetic community; some of her current diabetic project she's working on during black history month.

We talked about some of the struggles we we face, getting the African American communities and all other people of color educated on the dangers of diabetes; as well as the fears and discrimination that still exist for diabetics today.

Click here to listen with your default media player

Richard A. Vaugn

For 2012 I thought it would be wonderful to start the year off with a positive interview!

My guest is Richard A Vaughn. He has written an awesome book called "Beating The Odds - 64 years of Diabetes Health". In this book, he takes us on a journey through his diabetic life.

From the moment he was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 6, all the way up through completing his masters degree, @ a time when people thought diabetics shouldn't go to college (because diabetes was considered a disability then).

Richard also talks about his wonderful family and grand children, in addition to participating in the Joslin Medalist Study, funded by the JDRF & National Institute of health..

Richard is definitely an inspiration to us all. He has showed us insulin dependent people, how to live healthy emotionally & physically by example, with either no, or the least amount of complications possible; coming from a time when life expectancy for a diabetic was no later than 40 years old.


Click here to listen with your default audio player!


You can purchase Richard's book by clicking on the graphic of his book below.

December 2009
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Diabetic PlayList


What's in your headphones? We all know how important exercise is to any diabetic, however, the music you exercise to is also just as important too! Music can make the difference between a 3 minute workout, and a 30 minute workout. Personally, I am an oldies guy, and my musical tastes are pretty eclectic and diverse. The above playlist consist of music I am listening to on my Anddroid when I exercise or power-walk. As my mood changes, so shall the playlist.


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Diabetes Stats

Socks4Life is working hard to inform their customers about diabetes.
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Monthly Archives: December 2009

By Dean Olsen
Enterprise News Service


Veteran central Illinois broadcaster Bob Murray lost 170 pounds on a liquid diet and got down to 210 – his “perfect weight” – in 2002.


He maintained that weight for several months before beginning a slide into his old habits as a “volume eater” and food addict. He switched jobs and worked a new schedule that didn’t allow him to continue attending a weight-loss support group. After noticing he was gaining weight, he became self-conscious, and his daily workouts at the YMCA in his hometown of Decatur became less frequent. Then, after Murray found that his new wardrobe didn’t fit anymore, the floodgates to big portions and drive-through fast food swung wide open. And his motivation to exercise plunged. “You think that you’re doing OK, and suddenly the pants don’t fit like they used to,” he said. “Once you get the next-size pants, it’s goodbye.” Murray, 62, is far from alone in his journey. Gaining and losing weight are common in the United States, where two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese, and it’s common knowledge that excess weight increases a person’s risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and several forms of cancer.

Some people maintain weight loss

Maintaining a weight loss is not as uncommon as once thought. Studies from the early 1990s indicated that almost everyone who lost weight gained it back within a few years. But those studies may have been skewed because they focused on people who were the heaviest and sickest, according to a 1999 study in the International Journal of Obesity. Authors of the study wrote that their nationwide survey of the general population found almost half of overweight adults who had intentionally lost 10 percent or more of their weight maintained the weight loss for at least a year. As many as 27 percent of them had kept the weight off for five years or more. That still means a majority of people regained weight, but the study’s authors wrote that they “reject the notion that weight loss maintenance is impossible.” Murray, who said he has gained back all the weight he lost – plus 30 pounds – said he would “love to lose weight, but like a lot of people who are overweight, I want to do it the easiest way possible.” David Steward doesn’t have to be told how hard it is to maintain a weight loss. The Springfield resident, a physician specializing in general internal medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, lost 60 pounds 4 1/2 years ago through healthier eating and regular exercise. Steward, 59, credited exercise – primarily bicycling – for helping him keep the weight off. But he won’t guarantee that he will continue to be successful, and he doesn’t look down on people who end up regaining weight. “I’m glad that it’s lasted this long,” he said “I’m always surprised that this is so hard.”

What has worked

The Rhode Island-based National Weight Control Registry has studied the habits of successful weight losers since 1994. More than 6,000 Americans who have sustained a weight loss of 30 pounds or more have volunteered to be in the registry. They lost weight with a variety of diets, and almost all increased their physical activity – mostly through walking. The ways they kept from regaining weight were strikingly similar, according to Graham Thomas, a clinical psychologist and co-investigator at the not-for-profit registry.

Most of them tend to eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet, and most said they consume fewer than 2,000 calories a day, although they really may be eating more than that and underestimating their consumption, he said. “They don’t tend to splurge on weekends or holidays, either,” he said. There’s not a lot of variety in their diets, which may help them keep track of calories through a limited number of “safe foods,” Thomas said. Most weigh themselves daily or, at minimum, once a week, and they exercise – a lot. The average was 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, which is what the Institute of Medicine recommends.

How do they find the time for all that huffing and puffing? They watch far less television – averaging 10 hours or less each week – compared with 28 hours for the average American adult, Thomas said. “The average American is sedentary,” said Anne Daly, a registered dietitian and director of a weight-management program operated through the office of Springfield endocrinologist Dr. Norman Soler. And most jobs don’t require heavy lifting, she said. The average farmer in 1900 burned 5,000 calories a day, she said. “Today, farmers sit on a machine and push buttons,” she said. To be successful at maintaining weight loss, Daly said most people need to both eat less and exercise more.

Bob Murray’s struggles

Murray, the voice behind the “Morning Newswatch” at Springfield radio station WTAX (1240 AM/107.5 FM), said he was successful at both sides of the weight-loss equation four times in his life, losing between 90 and 100 pounds in the 1980s before his biggest loss seven years ago. That was when a 4,000-calories-a-week liquid diet, supervised through Soler’s Health Management Resources weight-loss program, calmed his appetite and provided support and coaching, Murray said. Though never very athletic, Murray felt more energetic as he lost weight – an average of two pounds a week – and walked a treadmill for 45 minutes most days. Murray, who stands 6-foot-2, bought a whole new wardrobe and fielded questions from people who asked whether his shrinking body was the result of cancer.

But after he returned to solid food, he said he fell into a familiar pattern of feeling “cured” and relaxing his eating and exercise regimen. His switch from a daytime work schedule at WMAY-AM to a shift at WTAX that started at 1:30 a.m. coincided with his backsliding. But he didn’t put the blame on his new job. “It’s not the shift; it’s me,” he said. “In my case, I have to concentrate on losing weight. I have to change my complete lifestyle.” Since gaining back the weight, Murray said he and his wife, Sandy, who has never had a weight problem, don’t go to restaurants much anymore because he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself. For the same reason, he said he doesn’t eat when he makes personal appearances for his job.

“It gets you down,” he said.

Murray doesn’t go to the Y anymore and has a hard time mustering the motivation to exercise. “I have a great Schwinn Airdyne stationary bike at home that is a great clothes rack now,” he said. Daly said successful weight control usually is connected with accountability. For Steward, it’s his scale at home. “I weigh myself every day,” he said.

Dr. Steward’s success

Steward grew up in a small town in Iowa and was “always a little overweight,” he said. He played basketball and baseball for his high school teams and ran the 440-yard dash “slowly” for the small school’s track team, he said. His weight rose from 190 in high school to about 220 in college and fluctuated a bit during medical school at the University of Iowa, said Steward, who stands 5-foot-9. His maximum weight, in the mid-1980s, was between 240 and 250, he said. His big weight loss began after he fell on slick pavement while riding his bicycle in Washington Park. His knees, which had been giving him trouble for years, were badly twisted. The pain he felt while recovering from the fall made him realize that the excess weight he was carrying might make his knees wear out to the point that he would need orthopedic surgery within a few years.

Steward began exercising every day, something that his wife, Dr. Gina Kovach, had been doing already as part of her own strategy to stay fit. Steward, who is chairman of SIU’s internal medicine department, stopped snacking on candies, cookies and other junk food at work. And when the weather is bad, he works out hard – 40 minutes to an hour most mornings, getting his heart rate to about 140 beats a minute – on a stationary recumbent bicycle in his basement. He has set up a television in front of the cycle to help pass the time. “I keep telling myself I have to do this,” he said. “There’s no variety in it, but it’s easy on my knees.” Steward said he is fortunate to have the income to afford exercise equipment, and the time and a stable schedule that allows for regular workouts. He is quick to say that he doesn’t always eat healthy foods, but when he snacks, he tries to make low-fat selections. “I feel better in a lot of ways,” he said. “And my joints feel better.”

Dean Olsen can be reached at (217) 788-1543 or dean.olsen@sj-r.com.

Maintaining weight loss

People in the National Weight Control Registry who are successful in maintaining weight loss do these things:

_Most say they maintain a low-calorie, low-fat diet.

_78 percent eat breakfast every day.

_75 percent weigh themselves at least once a week.

_62 percent watch fewer than 10 hours of TV a week.

_90 percent exercise, on average, about one hour a day.

–Source: National Weight Control Registry, part of Brown University Medical School

While scientists have known for decades that vitamin D deficiency leads to bone diseases like rickets, more recently they have found connections between low vitamin D levels and a wide range of other illnesses, including cancer, autoimmune disorders and caradiovascular disorders.  The human body creates vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, and yet some of the sunniest parts of the world have the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency. Several factors have contributed to dangerously low vitamin D blood levels among people in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Vitamin D necessary for bone strength

Healthy bones depend on vitamin D, says Ambrish Mithal of the Indian Society for Bone and Mineral Research.  “Vitamin D is what absorbs calcium into our body and helps it reach the bone. Vitamin D deficiency, therefore, results in weak bones and bones that are soft, that will bend and break.”  Getting enough vitamin D should be relatively simple. “The major source of vitamin D is sunshine,” Mithal says. “We make vitamin D under the influence of UV rays that we get in the sunlight. We make it in our skin.”

Vitamin D deficiency common, even in sunny places

But some of the world’s sunniest regions have the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency. That’s the finding of a recent report from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, which reviewed research done over the past three decades. Mithal is a coauthor of that report. “Vitamin D deficiency is a global phenomenon. But certain parts of the world, they’re prone to severe vitamin D deficiency – for example, South Asia, like India, or Middle East, like Lebanon. There have been studies from these areas which have shown that almost 80 percent, or maybe even more, of the urban population is significantly vitamin D deficient.”

He points to several factors to explain why people who live in sunny areas still may not get sufficient vitamin D. “Those who live closer to the equator are actually less prone to vitamin D deficiency, but at times this, can be overshadowed by other factors like skin pigmentation, less outdoor activity and more skin cover with clothes,” Mithal says.

Vitamin D expert Michael Holick, of the Boston University Medical Center, explains why people with darker skin generally have lower levels of the nutrient than lighter-skinned people, even in the same country. “The major reason is that their melanin, which protects their skin from excessive exposure to sunlight, also prevents them from making vitamin D,” he says. “We showed that African-Americans need to be exposed three to five times longer to sunlight to be able to make the same amount as a white person.”

Another coauthor of the vitamin D review, Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, describes how people in the Middle East can spend time outdoors without absorbing enough vitamin D. “In these, the Middle Eastern countries, people tend to follow a very much more conservative clothing style, in a large proportion of subjects. And the other thing is that with modernization, women who do not follow the conservative clothing style use sunblock. Sunblock with sun protection factor as low as six and eight can completely block the ability of the skin to make vitamin D.” El-Hajj Fuleihan, of the American University of Beirut Medical Center, says this may explain why women in general have lower vitamin D levels.

Deficiency could be dangerous

There is new concern about vitamin D deficiency because, as Michael Holick explains, recent medical discoveries show it may be much more dangerous than previously thought. “What we haven’t appreciated until about the past decade is that vitamin D seems to be important for reducing risk of many chronic illnesses that span anywhere from autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, to infectious diseases like tuberculosis and influenza, reduces risk of heart attack, stroke and most importantly, reduces risk of deadly cancers.”

Ways to get more vitamin D

People can get more of the nutrient in their diet. In the United States and other countries, some foods are fortified with vitamin D. But Holick says that’s generally not enough. “Children probably need a thousand units of vitamin D a day. Teenagers and adults need two thousand units of vitamin D a day to satisfy their requirement… You cannot get an adequate amount of vitamin D to satisfy your body’s requirement from your diet.”

So, he and other experts like Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, now recommend spending a little more time in the sun. “We are fully aware of the risk of skin cancer with sun exposure but suggest that there may be a happy compromise and that maybe the first 10 minutes or so three times a week… let the skin get some ability to make vitamin D, and then put the sunblock on.” In addition, she says, those who spend their days indoors should take a vitamin D supplement.

Although the World Health Organization has said that most people get enough vitamin D through sun exposure and diet, in light of the new research, it has commissioned its own report and may issue new recommendations.

© 2009 VOA

The World Health Organization estimates there are more than 180 million people with diabetes. The WHO says that number could double in 20 years. Many diabetics must interrupt their activities to monitor their blood sugar levels several times a day and inject insulin when those levels become abnormal, but most diabetics will tell you they would like to find relief from that chore. Fourteen-year-old Sarah Carlow is a diabetic. It is a fact never far from her mind. “I check my blood sugar on average maybe 10 or more times a day. I check it before breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have to check your blood sugars while you’re playing sports. I also have to count carbohydrates,” says Sarah.

By monitoring the carbohydrates in all of the food and drink she consumes, Sarah knows how much insulin to give herself, but recently the teenager was fitted with an artificial pancreas that did the work for her. Sarah explains, “Not having the every day, every minute, every hour hassle of worrying about my blood sugars, if this comes into play, I can live a life like I did before, which is awesome [wonderful].” Sarah was one of 17 teenagers with type one diabetes who were fitted with the artificial pancreas at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.

The device uses a sensor to monitor the glucose and a pump which distributes the correct amount of insulin needed. Dr. Stuart Weinzimer of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital says the artificial pancreas has wide potential for other diabetics. Dr. Weinzimer explains, “It would potentially benefit anyone with diabetes, type one or type two, anybody who requires insulin.” Researchers say as a precaution the insulin was dispensed only with a doctor’s approval.

But the artificial pancreas was found to maintain appropriate blood glucose levels for up to 16 hours. It kept on pumping throughout exercise, meal time, even long after it was time to turn off the light. Scientists plan less controlled studies on patients outside the hospital setting.

© 2009 VOA

By Melissa Westphal
Norwich Bulletin

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Shopping for health insurance plans has become increasingly stressful for small-business leaders and their employees.

Choosing the right insurer — for the right price — is a time-stealer, tearing them from their focus on customers and profits.

“It takes a lot of time to dig through the different plans and meet with people. It’s a part-time job” in itself, says Lucas Derry, executive vice president of Header Die & Tool Inc. in Rockford. “That’s time I (can’t) dedicate to strategic planning, to growth, to face-time with customers.”

For workers, it’s an ever-increasing financial burden.

Family premiums for Illinois workers rose 5.6 times faster than their paychecks from 2000 to 2007. On average, premiums rose by 73.1 percent, although median earnings rose by 13.1 percent, according to the nonpartisan Families USA, a research and advocacy group based in Washington.

Increasingly expensive medical technology and rising prescription-drug costs are the culprits behind the steadily rising costs, says Kim Bailey, a senior health policy analyst for Families USA. Those increased costs force employers into the agonizing annual process of finding affordable health insurance plans, even if it means reducing coverage or increasing premiums for employees. For some of them, dropping health insurance is the only option — which creates different problems as trained and trusted workers find work with employers who offer it. The number of Americans covered by employment-based insurance fell more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2007, Families USA reported this year. Many Rock River Valley employers provide coverage, but more are asking employees to help foot the bill.

Mike McKinnon, president of Rogers Brothers Galvanizing, says the company covered 100 percent of the premiums for its 75 employees about five years ago. But it fell to about 85 percent in 2007 because of increased costs. Rogers Brothers absorbed the increases for 2008 but asked employees to cover a larger part of their deductibles. “There is a considerable amount of administrative time involved in the insurance process,” McKinnon says. “It’s more of a retention tool because it’s something you want to offer to keep people.” Gary Dietz, a Rogers Brothers employee of 15 years, wasn’t surprised to learn that his health insurance costs through work would increase. But the company did a good job of explaining why, Dietz says. “They had a meeting before they ever raised the premiums. They explained where their money goes as a company and how much insurance costs have shot up.” Dietz, his wife and their four sons — ages 14 to 22 — are covered by his employer insurance plan, and he most notices the increase when it comes to filling prescriptions.

Still, he’s grateful the company offers it: “They shopped around and got their money’s worth.” Gloria Stuhr Pernacciaro, CEO of metal stamping company Reliable Machine, says the company shopped 11 other insurance carriers this year but stayed with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. That meant better coverage but increased costs. The company had not increased employee contributions since 2005, but Reliable couldn’t weather a 24 percent cost increase this year without passing it on. “We will have to find ways to save money in other areas to make up for the increase in health-care costs,” she says.

For instance, Reliable changed its production schedule in February 2006 so crews work four 10-hour days each week, saving the company money and giving employees three-day weekends. Pernacciaro also says employees were involved in investigating alternatives for insurance coverage so they better understood the costs.

Health insurance is the third-largest cost for Header Die & Tool, behind labor and raw materials, Derry says. Derry doesn’t see a point when the company would have to drop health insurance for employees, but deductibles and employees’ out-of-pocket expenses will increase. “We’re doing everything we can internally with employees to work on wellness initiatives and sharing what the costs are and how that affects the company. This does affect the overall bottom line of the company. When you absorb more costs, there is less left at the end of the day.”

About 50.7 million American families will spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax income on health-care costs in 2008, and more than one-fourth of insured Americans report problems with medical bills or are paying off medical debt. Ella Hushagen, a health policy analyst and state policy coordinator for Families USA, says Illinois lacks protection in the individual insurance market to protect consumers, and some of the same issues can be applied to the small-group market.

The state needs to limit how much insurers can charge people based on their health status, she says, and needs to implement a minimum medical loss ratio to make sure insurers are using premium dollars efficiently. Hushagen also recommends requiring insurers to seek prior approval before increasing premiums. “Those are especially helpful for smaller firms because they see more impact from just one person’s health. In this case, there would be better risk-sharing capacity.”

Melissa Westphal can be reached at (815) 987-1341 or mwestpha@rrstar.com.

The bottom line
A report last month from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy and communications research group, shed some light on why health care is so costly:

Expanding wealth. As nations become wealthier, they spend more money on health care. New treatment options and the development of new technology affect cost, too.

Obesity. People are getting fatter, and the chronic diseases related to obesity, such as hypertension and diabetes, tax the system because more people are seeking medical care and buying prescription drugs. About 45 percent of Americans suffer from one or more chronic illnesses, which account for 70 percent of deaths and 75 percent of all health-care spending.

Comprehensive health benefits. In a predictable irony, when insurance pays a higher percentage of the cost, people use more health care.

Inefficiencies in medical care delivery, such as lack of systems for electronically storing and transmitting health data, is another factor.

Prescription drug spending. It stood at $216.7 billion in 2006, more than five times higher than the $40.3 billion spent in 1990. Three factors driving those increases are increased use, price increases and changes in the types of drugs used.

Reforming the system
The National Federation of Independent Business (fixedforamerica.com) has published its small-business principles for health-care reform.

Included in those efforts is a list of 10 points:

1. Universal. All Americans should have access to quality care and protection against catastrophic costs. A government safety net should enable the neediest to obtain coverage.

2. Private. To the greatest extent possible, Americans should receive their health insurance and health care through the private sector. Care must be taken to minimize the extent to which governmental safety nets crowd out private insurance and care.

3. Affordable. Health-care costs to individuals, providers, governments and businesses must be reasonable, predictable and controllable.

4. Unbiased. Health care and tax laws should not push Americans into employer-provided or government-provided insurance programs and hobble the market for individually purchased policies. Small employers should be treated the same as large employers, who already can pool across state lines. A health-care system built on employer mandates is unacceptable.

5. Competitive. Consumers should have many choices among insurers and providers. Policymakers must alleviate the limitations that state boundaries and treatment mandates place on competitiveness.

6. Portable. Americans should be able to move throughout the United States and change jobs without losing their health insurance.

7. Transparent. Information technology should enable all parties to access accurate, user-friendly information on costs, quality and outcomes. Providers must be able to obtain relatively complete medical histories of patients. At the same time, patients’ privacy must be guarded zealously. The private sector must play a vital role in developing the new technologies.

8. Efficient. Health-care policy should encourage an appropriate level of spending on health care. Laws, regulations and insurance arrangements should direct health-care spending to those goods and services that will maximize health. Adequate risk pools throughout the health-care system are vital to accomplishing these goals.

9. Evidence-based. The health-care system must encourage consumers and providers to accumulate evidence and to use that evidence to improve health. Appropriate treatment choices and better wellness and preventive care should be key outcomes.

10. Realistic. Health-care reform should proceed as rapidly as possible, but not so quickly that firms and individuals cannot adjust prudently. It is important to assure that no one’s quality of care suffers as we move to provide coverage for all Americans.

How To Give Yourself An Insulin Injection

Diabetes Info For Family And Friends

By Mike DeDoncker


Caroline Trapp wants you to give yourself three weeks — OK, four counting a week to prepare to do it right — to become a vegetarian. Trapp, a nurse practitioner and director of diabetes education and care for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, offered that challenge in a series of talks sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford and Vegetarians in Motion last week. Her main message was that a low-fat, plant-based diet can be just as effective as some medicines in fighting type 2 diabetes. But she didn’t discount other possible benefits such as weight control, more energy and better-looking skin. “You can do anything for three weeks,” said Trapp, referring to a kick-start support program the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine will offer at www.pcrm.org/kickstart beginning Jan. 1. “The important thing before starting kick-start is the week of preparation.” She said that week is when “all the troublemaker foods” such as meats, dairy products, eggs and high-fat processed foods get cleaned out of the house and are replaced by fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.

“I always say to my patients, ‘Don’t walk out the door of this office visit thinking ‘OK, that’s it, I’m going vegan,’ ” said Trapp, who is board certified in adult primary care, diabetes education and advanced diabetes management. “Because when you encounter ‘OK, what am I going to make for dinner,’ and you don’t have the right foods in the house, you throw up your hands and say, ‘Oh, I can’t do this.’ “If you take an academic approach, and you do a little bit of reading, you’re going to get the right foods in the house and you’re going to figure it out. People go on diets and then they get hungry and it all goes out the window. If you’ve got the wrong things around, it’s too tempting, too readily available, too easy to fall back.”

Once the troublemaker foods are out of the house, Trapp said, the idea is to be 100 percent vegan for three weeks and the kick-start program will offer 21 daily menu ideas, videos and other support to help with the motivation. The upside of the program, she said, is that it doesn’t require attention to portion control, calorie restriction or limiting carbohydrates. “Three weeks, that’s not very much time,” Trapp said. “But it’s enough time to find that maybe your blood sugar has come down, or your weight might drop a few pounds, or you might find you have more energy.”

Trapp, who has 25 years experience in nursing, said she has seen several drugs that were touted as having the ability to revolutionize diabetes treatment come and go because of the effects they had on various body organs. “Drugs come with side effects,” she said, “and I’m not saying all drugs are bad and that some can’t control diabetes. But we have an opportunity here with a different way of eating that can help as well as some of those drugs, and I don’t think we’re going to prescribe our way out of this diabetes epidemic.”

Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or mdedoncker@rrstar.com.

On the Web

Diabetes expert Caroline Trapp also recommends these Web sites for information on diabetes and diet:

* NutritionCME.org, for health-care professionals;
* NutritionMD.org, for disease-specific recommendations and a meal-planner tool;
* pcrm.org/diabetes, for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s diabetes resources and message board;
*and FoodForLiveTV .org, for weekly webcasts.



Griswold, Conn. —

Nick Emard, 17, used to bring in the back of the pack on the Griswold High School track team.

He was short, stocky and not very fast. But he liked running, so he kept at it. He met James Strmiska, 16, his sophomore year. In Little League, coaches used to have to stop Strmiska from sprinting past his teammates when running the bases. The two trained together with the cross country team, running nearly every day, until they became Griswold’s top runners.

Emard won the three-mile Windham Invite in September. Strmiska set a personal record in the mile of 4.34 minutes.Both athletes have type 1 diabetes, and are insulin-dependent. “They’re both unbelievable kids,” said Glenn LaBossiere, athletic director at Griswold High School. “They’re good students, the teachers all like them. They represent the school very well. They’re just kids you can count on.” Track and cross country coach Mike Flynn said Emard’s improvement is among the most remarkable he’s ever seen.“He just kept showing up, even in the snow,” he said. “You never know with new runners if they’re going to stick with it … but he just kept coming every day and he kept getting better and better.” He said both students are open to coaching and have excellent work ethics.“James is a kid who came out his freshman year of outdoor track, and the talent was there right off the bat,” Flynn said.

Both teens were diagnosed with diabetes at routine physicals without any symptoms. Type 1 diabetes disease occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. “They borrow each other’s (glucose) meter,” said Antoinette Strmiska, James’ mother. “When Nick was having a lot of trouble with his glucose level, James would say, ‘Here, borrow my meter,’ or, ‘You need to have a snack.’ They’d look out for each other.” Strmiska, of Canterbury, has an older brother who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 5. James Strmiska used to help his older brother, his mother said. James Strmiska played basketball in middle school and said he started track because of the disease.

“It definitely takes my mind off it, and it helps with the blood sugar,” he said. Strmiska also likes to eat — hamburgers, apples and spaghetti — and exercise helps lower the blood sugar. Emard is the second of three boys. He moved to Griswold about seven years ago from Indiana, ran in middle school, and played a year of high school soccer before trying winter track. “I like the team aspect of cross country, that you compete as the team,” he said. “But it’s also individual, because you run for yourself and your own times. I think it’s kind of relaxing, too. Because you just put your problems behind you and run.” The boys ran together all summer, and ran near the front of the pack during the Windham Invite. Strmiska’s mother was cheering in the crowd when Emard finished first.

“We were so excited, we were screaming at the top of our lungs when he came around the corner,” Antoinette Strmiska said. Both said they’d like to keep running in college. Strmiska said he might become an athletic trainer or a doctor someday. Emard’s thought about physical therapy. “I think Nick will run in college wherever he goes, and I think throughout his college running he will just get better,” Flynn said. “James has all the talent in the world. He can be as good as he wants to be.”

sodaSoda Vending Machine

Sugary soft drinks are coming under fire from health experts and government officials, who blame them for making people fat. While millions of people around the globe continue to purchase and enjoy the sweet, carbonated beverages, others have come to see them as a health hazard. In the United States, experts are careful not to put all of the blame for the nation’s expanding waistlines on the consumption of just one food item. But they say about half of the recent increase in Americans’ caloric intake comes from liquids, and primarily sweetened beverages. Soft drinks, at least the non-diet variety, are loaded with calories. Some brands contain as much as 83 g of sugar in one serving. The U.S. National Soft Drink Association acknowledges that people drink huge amounts of their products. The association says the biggest consumers of soda are young males, who drink, on average, nearly two liters each day.


Diets high in sugary drinks are linked to obesity, which in turn is linked to a number of serious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Some medical experts say nearly two thirds of Americans are already overweight. They predict that more than a quarter of the public could soon be become obese if the trend continues. (Obesity is roughly defined as being 13 kg heavier than one’s expected weight). n the face of such facts, government and school officials, as well as medical associations are becoming more aggressive in their opposition to soft drinks. Already, many schools in the U.S. have banned or restricted the sale of soda. According to researchers hired by The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the campaign resulted in a 65% reduction in shipments of full-calorie soft drinks to schools from 2007 to 2008.

“In August, the American Heart Association issued a recommendation that Americans significantly reduce their intake of sugar. The new recommended maximum sugar intake is 44g daily. That’s less than the amount of sugar found in one can of Coke or Pepsi.”


Government leaders across the country are beginning to propose new taxes on the popular beverages.

California state senator Alex Padilla, who chairs his state’s Select Committee on Obesity and Diabetes, plans to hold hearings in November on the link between soda consumption and obesity. In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom says he will propose legislation that would impose a fee on stores that sell sugary beverages. Newsom calls soft drinks “the new tobacco,” saying they have joined cigarettes in the pantheon of dangerous health hazards.


The medical establishment in the United States seems to be lining up solidly behind the idea that the consumption of sugary soft drinks should be discouraged through taxation. The American Medical Association (AMA) has called for a tax on the sweeteners used in soft drinks with the money going to pay for a public health education campaign. The New England Journal of Medicine, wants a tax on each purchase of any beverage that has added caloric (non-diet) sweetener. The tax would raise the cost of a bottle of soft drink by 15-20 percent, but reduce by 10% the nation’s caloric intake from sweetened beverages.

Although the Obama administration has not officially come out in favor of a such a tax, Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, openly favors it. Sweetened beverages “play a significant role in the obesity epidemic,” Frieden says.


The New York Times newspaper recently quoted soft drink industry spokesman Kevin W. Keane as denying that soda alone is responsible for the nation’s obesity problem. He calls obesity a complex problem and questions whether taxing the beverages would help.

With all of the bad publicity, the soft drink industry has seen a decline in sales beginning in 2005 and in each following year.

Products popular with the public have come under government fire before. In the last century, scientific studies demonstrated that smoking was harmful to people’s health. The U.S. government restricted the sale of tobacco and put high taxes on cigarettes to discourage people from smoking. Some are wondering if sugary soft drinks are about to get similar treatment.

© 2009 VOA


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