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How does excess weight affect diabetes? 

The pancreas in people with Type 2 diabetes no longer produces enough insulin to pick up all of the sugar in the blood and supply it to the cells for energy. As the leftover sugars build in the blood, the blood becomes sticky, much the way a can of spilled soda will eventually become sticky. The blood can then stick to cholesterol and triglycerides causing blockages, which can cause a heart attack. If it's a blood vessel going to the brain, it can cause a stroke.

Carrying extra weight can exasperate the situation by making the cells more resistant to one's own insulin. When extra fat surrounds the cells, it becomes even difficult for the insulin to deliver sugar to the cells for energy. Without energy, most people cannot muster up the motivation to exercise, perpetuating the cycle of sluggishness and weight gain, and eventually bigger health problems.

Of course, many who suffer from diabetes, particularly Type 1 diabetes, have no control over whether or not they develop the disease. However, the majority of diabetics, even those with a hereditary predisposition, can either prevent its onset or make it very manageable through diet and exercise. Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day and maintaining a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains is the best way to prevent and control diabetes.

For more information, contact the East Jefferson General Hospital Wound and Diabetes Management Center at 504-849-8600.

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