Why Are We Killing Ourselves?

Illustration for article titled Why Are We Killing Ourselves?

This is a question to which I can’t seem to find a logical answer.

I’ve got the “how” pretty much all figured out, because doctors and health officials from the U.S. Attorney General on down keep lobbing statistical grenades at us every chance they get. Here’s a sampling of the latest:

·         Up to 1 in 3 U.S. adults will have diabetes by 2050 if the current trend holds.


·         The reason? We’re too freakin’ fat.

·         Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

·         Diabetes costs us about $174 billion a year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that currently, one in 10 adults has diabetes, a condition in which your body is unable to properly process the sugars in the food you’ve eaten without the help of insulin injections. That rate is expected to triple over the next few decades because 1) as our population ages, our bodies aren’t as good at breaking down glucose; 2) as the number of minorities increases, so does the incidence of obesity and diabetes, because certain groups have higher incidences of these conditions, and 3) thanks to all the great diabetes meds, more people are living longer.

So I get the who. And the what, when and where.

But why?

For most people with diabetes, there is a cure: diet and exercise.  If you watch any of the weight-loss contests and dramas on TV, you’ve heard all those who’ve lost a great deal of weight talk about how their physicians have taken them off all diabetes meds because they’re eating healthier and exercising.

Trust me; I can quote chapter and verse on how very difficult it is to lose weight quickly. But it isn’t difficult at all to lose weight slowly, because the focus is on making gradual, healthy changes. Baking instead of frying, for starters. Yes, if you were diagnosed pre-diabetic as I was, it’s better to get the pounds off sooner rather than later.  A friend of mine recently went from pre-diabetic to full-blown Diabetes, and was not faring well at all. She and her family have had to make a lot of adjustments, including scaling back on her work hours.

I don’t know much about the disease, and I pray I’ll never have to. What I do know is scary: People have lost toes, feet, legs and even their lives because of “the sugar.” Paralysis, illness, blindness – diabetes is a mean son of a gun.


Still, to stop it in its tracks, one must make healthier food choices and exercise. Walking is great for your entire body. It’s free, relaxing and easy for the able-bodied, a bit of an effort for the obese, but wouldn’t you agree that it’s worth every effort if it means the difference between living and dying?

Which brings us around to my original question, and I certainly do apologize if this sounds facetious to some, but if we can end or curtail the deadly effect of the majority of instances of diabetes through diet and exercise, why are we killing ourselves? 


If I would have listened, if I would have understood diabetes like I understood music, maybe these things wouldn't have happened.    ~  Marvin Isley

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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.