Health & Family

Help for diabetes? Count these ways

Every 21 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes, we learned from the American Diabetes Association at its 68th Scientific Sessions in San Francisco.

This meeting of researchers, clinicians and educators had two things in mind – how to prevent and treat the worldwide epidemic of diabetes.

Besides a huge pile of papers and products to review when I get home, here are some numbers I remember:

Eat between 25-38 grams of dietary fiber a day. Various natural fibers in legumes, lentils, whole grains, vegetables and fruits have been found to reduce the risk for developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 24 percent to 45 percent, we were told by Janet King.

If you are overweight, do what you can to lose at least 10 percent of your weight.

Even a modest amount of weight loss, said many experts at this conference, can help lower blood glucose, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels – major risk factors for diabetes.

Get a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day. (That's about 5 miles.) More than one top diabetes researcher said increased activity is an important key to preventing and treating type 2 diabetes – the form most related to excess weight.

Tricia (my roommate at the conference) and I had an “unofficial” competition as we counted our steps to and from the conference each day. Hint: Fidgeting in meetings and taking the stairs instead of the escalator help a lot.

Limit television/computer game time to less than 10 hours a week. That's how we'll find the time to get our 10,000 steps a day.

And it's one of the strategies proven to help prevent weight gain, according to researcher Rena Wing.

Cut the sugar. The average American consumes 30 teaspoons of sugar a day, said registered dietitian Hope Warshaw.

And much of that comes from sodas and other sweetened beverages.

The jury is still out on how sweetened beverages affect our risk for diabetes. But it doesn't take a diabetes scientist to realize that those liquid calories we routinely slug down only add to our national waistline.

Find ways to manage stress in your life. Rats that are stressed seek out high fat and high sugar “comfort foods” that ultimately cause weight gain, according to researcher Mary Dallman.

Calculate your bone health. (Diabetes increases your risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures.)

Log on to sites that help you prevent and manage diabetes: (American Diabetes Association) and, which helps you plan menus, find recipes, take a portion control quiz and find other helpful tools to manage diabetes.

Stay tuned. We have more knowledge and tools than ever before to prevent and control diabetes.