Diabesity : The Obesity-Diabetes Epidemic That Threatens America--And What We Must Do to Stop It
Experts now predict that more than one–third of American children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Written by one of the world's leading authorities on the link between obesity and diabetes, this passionate, frightening–but ultimately hopeful–book points the way to a solution. To enter Dr. Francine Kaufman's clinic is to see the future of America: a 220–pound twelve–year–old boy…a 267–pound thirteen–year–old girl…their concerned but equally overweight parents…the human faces and human suffering behind the epidemic of type 2 diabetes that threatens to overwhelm our health care system. Once a disease of the elderly, type 2 diabetes now strikes adults in their prime–and, increasingly, children. It has nearly doubled in the last decade. The cause Our soaring rates of obesity. Diabesity takes us to the front lines of the fight against this preventable but deadly disease. Through vivid patient stories, it explains how excess weight destroys the body's ability to process sugar properly–with life–threatening consequences. It shows what happens when the genes that evolved to protect us from famine collide with a sedentary lifestyle that has put bacon cheeseburgers on every corner. And it demonstrates why our usual blame–the–victim response is futile in face of the complex, worldwide forces behind this epidemic. Detailing the tools for change at every level–from families to school systems to government–and reporting on innovative programs that are already making a difference, Diabesity offers a compelling action plan for winning this battle.
Kaufman explains the severity of the obesity/diabetes epidemic this way: "our ancient genes and our modern environment have collided," and so many adults and children are now being diagnosed with the disease that it "imperils human existence as we now know it." The author, who recently served as president of the American Diabetes Association and was instrumental in banning the sale of soda in Los Angeles schools, notes that the sharp increase in the number of diabetics in the U.S. mirrors the increased incidence of obesity (hence the word "diabesity," first used by health journalists in the late 1990s). Her first-rate, important book discusses the diagnosis of diabetes and its subsequent sequelae, the world history of both diabetes and obesity, and, most importantly, what must be done to fix the problem. Not so much a how-to for patients as a call to arms for policy makers and those in the health-care industry, the book intersperses riveting case studies that serve to accentuate the importance of "creating a new normal" mode of behavior in American culture-one that includes eating intelligently and exercising diligently. Kaufman has taken on a difficult topic, but her text is easy to understand and will be useful to many. Agent, Adam Chromy. (Mar.)Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 28, 2005
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Excerpt from Diabesity by Francine Kaufman
A Tale of Two Children
The blaring telephone woke me from the already fitful sleep of a night on call. I struggled desperately to lift my mind from semiconsciousness. The year was 1981; the time was 1:30 a.m. At that hour, a ringing phone meant a critically ill child.
I'm a pediatric endocrinologist. Since 1978 I have cared for youngsters with diabetes. I've also worked with adults with this dread disease, as a researcher, teacher, and advocate. In 2002, I was elected president of the American Diabetes Association.
Many people today think of diabetes as a slow-moving chronic disease. But it can be swift and merciless, particularly when it attacks young children. An abnormally high blood sugar level, the hallmark of diabetes, is always a medical emergency. In my early years as a doctor, first as an intern and then as a resident, I spent every third night on call, ready to go into battle against diabetes. The telephone call on that night in 1981 came from the emergency department resident. He told me that a nine-month-old baby named Cameron had been rushed to Childrens Hospital Los Angeles in a coma. Cameron's blood sugar was ten times higher than normal. No one in the emergency department had ever seen such a high number. By the time the resident finished his terse description, I was on my feet, fully awake.
I had recently completed my fellowship in pediatric endocrinology, the specialized training that follows residency, and I'd joined the staff at Childrens Hospital, where I now head the Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism. My husband, Neal, who was also establishing a medical career, was out of town at a professional meeting. We had two young children: Adam, age three, and Jonah, who was almost one. Our babysitter had quit that afternoon, and I'd spent most of the evening patching together child care arrangements for the coming week. I'd fallen into bed at midnight, even more exhausted than usual.
A close friend had promised to babysit if I needed to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, but time was too short. Cameron was already unconscious. If his blood sugar wasn't brought down to a normal level in just the right way, he might not survive the night. I ran to the kitchen with a tote bag and grabbed a plastic bottle of juice for Jonah and other supplies. Then I carried both boys to the car and fastened them into their car seats, trying not to awaken them. I drove with dread anticipation to the hospital.
Cameron was my first concern, but I also had to find some secure spot for my children. Carrying one sleeping child in each arm, I entered ER Room 2. This is the room nearest to the ambulance bay. It's larger than the other ER rooms, with special equipment and extra space so more people can fit. You're brought to Room 2 when you're in real trouble. The resident brushed past me; he was rushing a blood sample to the lab. Cameron lay on the bed, naked, his tiny body pale and motionless. Hovering over him were two of the ER interns, a respiratory nurse, and Esther, the ER's senior nurse. Around them, machines beeped and monitors flashed. An IV dripped fluid into Cameron's limp body.