A family vacation last summer to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and China, Zaidi said, provided a stark reminder of the reasons behind America’s diabetes epidemic.
“Everywhere we went,” he said, “one of the most astounding things we saw was that people were thinner, with much smaller BMIs (Body Mass Index). The portion sizes were so much smaller.”
He continued, “In this country, 35 to 40 percent of the population is overweight and 33 percent are considered obese.”
Diet – including the types of foods consumed and the amounts – lack of exercise and too much body fat are all critical factor in the development of diabetes, according to Zaidi. He cited a study which found that patients who made intensive lifestyle adjustments to their diets and exercise habits more effectively lowered their risk of developing diabetes than patients who took a common diabetes drug.
“For every 500 calories you burn through exercise,” Zaidi said, “you decrease your risk of developing diabetes by six percent.”
He stressed, however, that any exercise routine must be combined with a low-calorie diet for maximum benefit.
Reducing one’s risk of developing diabetes is well worth the effort, Zaidi said, as diabetics face an increased risk for a whole range of health problems. Diabetics, for instance, have a risk for developing heart disease that’s two-to-four times greater than that of the general public. Their risk for suffering a stroke is five-to-six times greater, while they have a risk for peripheral vascular disease that’s seven-to-eight times greater compared to the general population.
Most strikingly, according to Zaidi, 90 percent of all diabetics die of heart disease or cardiovascular complications.
Diabetics are also at an increased risk for problems with their feet, including non-healing ulcers that can lead to the need for amputations. As a result, Zaidi works closely with the DCMH Wound Care Clinic in treating many of his patients, engaging in what he called a “multi-disciplinary approach” to care.
Prevention of diabetes and stemming its growing epidemic, Zaidi said, is a “process of educating our patients. I tell my patients to set a goal of 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a week. You also have to start at elementary, junior high school and high school. You have to start incorporating healthy eating habits among those age groups and exercise regimens.”
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011