Weight loss can help prevent diabetes
Prevention is the key to avoiding chronic health disorders such as diabetes, says Ashtabula County Medical Center Endocrinologist Rahul Sharma, MD.
“Prevention or early intervention is the key for avoiding chronic diseases like diabetes,” Dr. Sharma said. “For example, we know that obesity can lead to diabetes and other health problems, so we work with patients to take the weight off to avoid life-threatening health problems in the future.”
A person is considered overweight if they have a body mass index of 25 to 29.9. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. In Ashtabula County, nearly 80% of women are overweight or obese (nearly 15% higher than the state average) and about 70% of men are overweight or obese (almost equal to the state average). Also, 12% of women and 13% of men have been diagnosed with diabetes – and many more have undiagnosed pre-diabetes.
A person is diagnosed with diabetes mellitus when the body does not properly use insulin, a hormone that transports glucose (sugar) from the blood to the cells where it is used for fuel. This is commonly called Type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes).
The good news is that it doesn’t take a huge weight loss to lower the risk of diabetes or other health problems. “Losing just 5% to 10% of your weight can lower your risk. If you also get enough exercise – an hour per day of moderate-intensity exercise– your health will improve, even without weight loss. Of course, you should check with your primary care provider to ensure you can safely begin an exercise program,” he said.
Since losing weight can be a daunting challenge, Dr. Sharma helps patients develop a long-term treatment plan for reducing the risk of diabetes.
“My goal is to work closely with each patient – listen to what they say about their health and their lifestyle – and develop a plan that can help prevent diabetes or slow the progress of diabetes if they already have it,” he said.
Treatment plans may include diabetes education, improving nutritional choices, or medication. Dr. Sharma may also refer patients to other specialists at ACMC since diabetes can affect eyesight, the heart, kidney function, and wound healing.
“Preventing or getting control of diabetes starts with our first discussion, but it could mean a long-term battle to restore a patient’s health. I remind my patients that I stand alongside them, along with a whole team of physicians and nurses who are experts at caring for patients with diabetes. We are here in Ashtabula County for you,” he said.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Sharma, call 440-997-6969.