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Michelle Obama concerned about diabetes

First Lady Michelle Obama
First Lady Michelle Obama
bright cove/tvguide

First Lady Michelle Obama will officially kick off a national campaign to combat childhood obesity on February 9, 2010 in Washington DC.  Tomorrow, February 2nd, Michelle Obama will meet with members of Congress and the cabinet at the White House.

The initiative will concentrate on improved school lunches, increased physical activity, and more available nutritional education.  Other items may include providing pedometers to students, putting maps of bike paths online, and bringing farmers' markets to neighborhoods.

The last week of January, while talking at a YMCA in Alexandria, VA, First Lady Obama said that a few years back she "was fortunate enough to have a pediatrician that ... waved a red flag for me as a mother, and basically cautioned me that I had to take a look at my own children's BMI (body mass index)." 

The week prior, during her address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Michelle addressed some of the dangers and statistics related to childhood obesity.  She noted that one in three children in the U.S. is overweight or obese and that one-third of children will eventually develop diabetes. (American Diabetes Association)

First Lady Obama was referring to type 2 diabetes, in particular.  Type 2 accounts for close to 90% of all diabetes cases in America.  Most people with type 2 are still able to produce some insulin, which is a hormone that helps the body's cells use sugars for energy.  Risk factors that can lead to developing type 2 diabetes include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, poor cholesterol levels, and heredity.  Treatment of type 2 diabetes often starts with lifestyle corrections.  These include dietary changes and implementation of an exercise program. 

Type 2 diabetes can often be avoided or held at bay with lifestyle changes.  However, type 1 diabetes, which accounts for the other 10% of diabetes cases in America,  usually hits children fast, with no understood trigger and no known means of avoidance.

Unlike type 2, type 1 diabetes is actually an autoimmune disease.  The individual's insulin-producing beta cells within the pancreas are gradually destroyed by the body so that the individual no longer can produce insulin.  Researchers believe that genetics play a large part in being predisposed to an attack.  The trigger for an attack of the beta cells may be viral, chemical, or perhaps even environmental.  This attack of the immune system then results in the continual and complete destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.  A Type 1 diabetic requires numerous injections daily for the remainder of their lifetime.


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