Thursday, October 14, 2010

Myth: Eating too much sugar will cause diabetes.

Answer: Busted!

pouring sugar
Diabetes is caused by genetic and lifestyle factors. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and it is caused when the immune system begins attacking the body’s own cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It is the result of either the body not producing enough insulin or body cells ignoring the insulin. The body needs insulin in order to take the sugar (glucose) from the blood and bring it into cells that will use it for energy. Without enough insulin, or the body ignoring the insulin, sugar builds up in the blood.

It is not eating sugar in itself that leads to diabetes. There are many factors involved. Eating more calories than your body needs of any type of food can lead to weight gain. Being overweight and doing little daily physical activity are both risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Having a close family member with diabetes will also put you at a higher risk for developing diabetes. However, making small lifestyle changes such as improving your diet and increasing your daily physical activity will greatly reduce your chances of developing the condition.

For more information about diabetes and what you can do prevent it, see Important information about type 2 diabetes.

Visit the MissouriFamilies website for more information about nutrition and health.

Contributor: Mary Wissmann, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, St. Louis County, University of Missouri Extension,

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