Obesity and diabetes – things you need to know (The Food Diaries, part one)

Many have spoken and wrote about obesity and diabetes before me, with it being one of the most common causes of incapacity to participate in societal life, sickness and death. However, here are some things you might not read as readily everywhere else.

Why November? Why the 14th?

The 14th of November has been a day to rise awareness about obesity and diabetes since the 90s, but it wasn’t chosen to throw rocks in our Thanksgiving dinner or to dump a cold shower on our Christmas and holiday preparations.

The date has been chosen as it is the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting – the Canadian who discovered insulin. For this, he won a Nobel Prize together with John Macleod in 1923. He passed from diabetes himself.

Since the United Nations issued a resolution for the need of extensive campaigning for awareness and prevention of diabetes, November has largely become Diabetes Awareness Month.

What you need to know about diabetes (and obesity)

Complex reasons for a complex condition

Part of the wrong, but lasting perception, that obesity is self-inflicted problem comes from the fact that diet is a significantly contributing factor. However, there are many things part of our diets which add up to obese bodies. It is far from what we eat, but much more of when we eat it, how we eat it, how do we feel while we eat it, what else do we do appart from eating, what is our current health status, what did our ancestors suffer from and more. 

In turn, obesity is only one of the factors which we know are related to diabetes. In the way of thinking of the evidence today, obesity is only one of the conditions which increase our risk of developing diabetes. The evidence is far from straight forward though – think of the lean people who have diabetes or the obese people who despite how they look are metabolically completely healthy (that’s me by the way – I’m well into the obesity range of BMI scores and yet – for years my detailed blood works comes back as a textbook example of what by markers should be).

There is a lot more to learn and many people to help

Nowadays, there are as many diabetes and obesity awareness and prevention campaigns as there are fish in the see (glossing over the fact that marine biodiversity is under threat from climate change – that’s for another time). Here are some of the big ones, where you can also find more information and links to other (including local centers to seek both information and help):

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) – link
  2. Diabetes UK – link
  3. WHO – link
  4. Diabetes Australia – link
  5. IDF (Europe) – link
  6. World Diabetes Foundation – link
Sources of data in the infographic
  • International Diabetes Federation facts and figures about diabetes – here;
  • Global stats on diabetes from the European Society of Cardiology – here;
  • A scientific review with the current knowledge of the link between obesity and diabetes – here;
  • A TED-MED talk against shaming of the obese and diabetes patients – here (technically not data, but outlines nicely why we should do a prejudice check more often);

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