Diabetes myths on feet, weight loss surgery, dietary care
Reach In! Reach Out! Program helps Chicagoland families with diabetes education
“Everybody knows” and “Most people know” are two phrases that make me cringe each time I edit an article or feature story. Why? Too often, people assume that what they know (or guess) is what everyone else must obviously know. Interestingly, I realized I’d fallen into this category while watching the latest episode of “Drink Champs” with Irv Gotti. (No, I’m not referring to the “bitch” episode with Ja Rule. The record label exec returned after that controversial interview.)
While Irv Gotti made a brief statement about his diabetes not being in control, I was dumbfounded when co-host Noreaga asked what diabetes is. In my mind, everybody black (and Hispanic) knew the basics of it. I cringed through Irv Gotti’s explanation of “good food” and why he can’t eat anything tasty anymore. The whole time he talked about his medical condition, I kept thinking, “If you don’t know what it is, how in the world are you going to control it?”
Reach In! Reach Out! educates African-American diabetics, pre-diabetics
On February 8, 2009, I completed an interview with Marla Solomon, a certified dietician and diabetes educator, from a now-defunct program at the University of Chicago called “Reach In! Reach Out!” The free program was available for African-American children and families at risk of Type 2 diabetes. At the time of this interview, participants in the program received a $400 stipend.
Although the program is no longer active, the following Q&A includes valuable information from team member Solomon. (Stats have been verified to make sure they are still valid 14 years later.) This interview also clarifies myths and facts related to diabetes and weight loss surgery, the importance of foot care, the significance of healthy eating, and how to care for a diabetic loved one.
Shamontiel L. Vaughn: Is it possible that people can have diabetes and then cure it from weight loss surgery?
Marla Solomon: There’s a whole thing with bariatric surgery [and how] diabetes can go away. It can never go away, but it can be controlled. Look at the stages of diabetes. We have a pre-diabetes stage. Years ago, they used to call it “borderline.” We don’t say that [now]. You’re either pregnant or you’re not. [Pre-diabetes is when] your fasting blood sugar is faster than 100 and less than 126. Ideally, fastings shouldn’t be over 100. But if we can catch people before it gets to 126, we can prevent someone from getting diabetes.
SLV: So if someone looked at an American Diabetes Association At-Risk Weight Chart and got weight loss surgery to meet whatever the required weight is, is it possible that they can now not have diabetes?
MS: In order to get the surgery, you have to be 100 pounds overweight. And most of these surgeries require psychological counseling first. Every case is individualized. [But if they get bariatric surgery], people may think that their blood sugar is under control and they don’t have diabetes anymore. [Still] once you have it, you have it. What if they gain weight again? [The diet] still has to be under control.
SLV: What is the relationship with feet and diabetes?
MS: If your blood sugar is high, your whole body is affected. That includes your feet. Your feet are the furthest away from your heart, and your heart pumps the blood through your body. If you have high blood sugar, it’s harder … to keep the circulation.