What Your Doctor Didn't Tell You About Metabolic Syndrome

Close up on sugar cubes and dice spelling diabetes

FROM METABOLIC SYNDROME TO DIABETES...A SHORT PATH

One of the hardest things for a doctor to do is change somebody's eating habits. We resist, especially if we don't have a specific illness that we're treating. Perhaps it's advice fatigue. We get tired of hearing it, we want to do what we want to do, and change is hard. If you're like me, you've heard from childhood that you need to eat your vegetables, cut down on sugar, stay at a healthy weight and get plenty of exercise. If we don't, we're told we could develop any number of illnesses. Perhaps that's one reason doctors aren't spending as much time talking to people with prediabetes as they should. People just don't want to hear it. But hear it they must.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine discussed a study that indicates a lot of doctors aren't talking with their patients about diabetes prevention, or if they do, they're glossing over it.

KNOW THE FACTS

Since diabetes is a growing problem in our country, and in North Dakota especially, it's important that we all know the facts. One in three American adults is pre-diabetic, meaning their blood sugars are higher than they should be on a normal day. Over time, this damages the blood vessels as sharp sugar molecules batter them, and can cause circulatory problems and the diseases related to it. Doctors also know that between 15 and 30 percent of people with prediabetes go on to develop the actual disease and all of the lifestyle-altering changes that go with it.

Researchers named in the study said 90 percent of people who have prediabetes are unaware of it, since it causes no symptoms. This puts much of the burden on healthcare providers to test for it, and then talk with their patients about it.

PEOPLE RESIST CHANGE

Sadly, only about a quarter of people who are told they have prediabetes make the changes to their health that might make a difference, but to that 25 percent, the information can turn out to be lifesaving. Studies have proven that early intervention can prevent or hold off diabetes itself, sometimes for years.

Researchers at the University of Florida are now surveying thousands of family doctors, to find out why they aren't discussing prediabetes with their patients more often. But if your doctor doesn't offer the information to you, they recommend that you ask.