I spend a good deal of time trying to stay informed about diabetes research as well as catching up on the basic science that has been discovered since I was in school. Sometimes it seems like an impossible task.
New research and news stories come in faster than I can read and file them. New findings contradict former "facts," so that what one reads in textbooks, even those published fairly recently, may no longer be considered true. And sometimes, in the scramble to keep abreast of current news, I forget that people who have been diagnosed with diabetes only recently haven't read all the older stories.
I too sometimes forget about some of the older stories, maybe a great research paper or great popular article that appeared several years ago. I came across one interesting one recently when filing something else.
It's a popular article written in 2008 for a British newspaper, and it's certainly not what you'd call rigorous research. What makes it interesting is the photographs that accompany the article.
What the newspaper did was to ask 10 people between 35 and 50 who had never been diagnosed with diabetes to take "a blood test." The blood test was a fingerstick test in a home-type meter. If they said they hadn't eaten (I suspect this wasn't rigorously controlled and wasn't a real fasting test, more like a premeal test) any result over 5.9 mmol/L (106 mg/dL) was considered suggestive of diabetes. If they said they'd eaten, the cutoff was 8.9 mmol/L (160 mg/dL).
If results were over the limits, the people were told to see a physician for more rigorous tests.
Then they photographed the participants, so you can compare body builds with high blood glucose (BG) readings. It's also interesting to compare the body builds with the BMIs.
Try looking at the photographs and see if you can predict which people had abnormal BG levels. Because of the constant barrage of news stories claiming that obesity is increasing and that obesity causes diabetes, most people would predict that the overweight people, especially those who got no exercise, would have high BGs.
That wasn't the case in this tiny sample, although the participants were relatively young and might develop type 2 in the future as many of them had diabetic relatives (probably why they volunteered for the test). One person labeled obese had a normal BG reading. One person labeled normal weight had a high BG reading. The person with the lowest BG reading said she got no exercise at all.
The sad thing is that a lot of doctors still believe that obesity causes diabetes and might not bother to test someone who wasn't fat, especially if that person claimed to "eat healthy" (whatever that means) and exercise regularly.
Bottom line: You can't tell by looking at someone whether or not they have diabetes.
Published On: June 30, 2009