Bermuda Sun News ... Beyond the Headlines

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Ag Show food stalls were full of high-fat foods
Annual Exhibition reminds us why we have a diabetes epidemic in Bermuda

Debbie Jones
Guest columnist

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Poor food choices: Most food stalls at this year’s Ag Show were serving high-fat, deep-fried foods. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Healthy options: A selection of the healthier foods on display at this year’s Annual Exhibition. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

Debbie Jones is currently a vice president of the International Diabetes Federation and a diabetes nurse educator at the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s Diabetes Education Centre. She writes a monthly diabetes column for the Bermuda Sun to help educate people about one of the island’s biggest killers.


The Annual Exhibition reminded me why we have a problem in Bermuda with obesity

Studies show the risk of developing diabetes can be reduced by 50 to 60 per cent if measures are taken regarding inappropriate diet, physical activity and obesity.

People with diabetes, on average, live 12 years fewer than the person without diabetes. The time to act is now. The Annual Exhibition is the perfect example of why we have a problem in Bermuda with obesity.

High fat foods

Almost every food stall was serving high-fat, deep-fried foods.

The sun was shining and people were looking for cold drinks to wash down their French fries, hamburgers, fried chicken and fish so where better to go than the snowball or snow cone stall.

Pouring on the pounds! In the middle of the fried foods and snow cones stood the fruit stall which was run by the Bermuda Diabetes Association, valiantly trying to encourage Bermudians to choose the healthy option.

The type 2 diabetes epidemic is the tsunami of health diseases. It gets bigger and bigger and yet it is preventable. There are some simple things that everyone can do to prevent getting diabetes. No one is immune.

• Start doing some form of exercise every day. Walking is a great exercise. Just 30 to 40 minutes of walking a day will not only help prevent developing diabetes, but will help prevent or control elevated blood pressure.

• Eat more servings of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables should be part of everyone’s healthy diet. Most fruit and vegetables are lower in calories and higher in fibre than other foods. Studies show that people who eat more fruits and vegetables a day are less likely to suffer from strokes, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and some types of cancer.

We are often asked how to add more fruits and vegetables to the diet. Try topping the morning bowl of cereal with some fresh blueberries or half a banana. Diced tomatoes and onions will turn an egg white omelette into a mouth-watering breakfast or lunch option. Keep an orange or apple in your desk drawer for that morning snack. Look at your plate and draw a line down the middle. Half of that plate should be vegetables. Keep some raw vegetables handy to nibble on when you are hungry. Frozen bananas and grapes on a stick make a tasty dessert. Put some frozen vegetables into the casserole or soup you are making for dinner.

The global obesity epidemic is the largest epidemic we have ever faced and it’s preventable. Although it takes a little education, it isn’t always easy for the average person to fully understand a food label if it has never been explained. For example, how many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon? The answer is four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar. So look on the label of the fruit drink you are about to drink. First look at the serving size. Then look at the amount of grams of sugar. Multiply the grams of sugar by the amount of servings and this will give you the total grams of sugar in the whole bottle. Then divide by four and you have the amount of teaspoons of sugar. Count these out using packets of sugar and you will be shocked.

Obesity is the underlying cause for so many diseases including diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Drinking water instead of sweet drinks is the first step to becoming healthy. By drinking these sweetened fruit drinks or soda you are just pouring on the pounds.

So now is the time to act. Start an exercise programme, eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and drink water. It’s simple — you just have to do it. What are you waiting for?





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