The problem is getting so bad that they had to create a new word for it: Diabesity. It means that so many people in the United States are becoming overweight and obese that they are developing Type 2 diabetes at an earlier age and risking getting all of the dire complications that come along with the disease. According to ABC News and the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 50% of the entire population of adults in this country may have diabetes or pre-diabetes by the year 2020. Since diabetes is one of the most expensive chronic conditions to treat, this could end up costing 3.35 billion by the end of the decade. Talk about your fiscal cliff.
The problem is especially bad among children. According to WebMD, 1in 3 children born after the year 2000, will develop diabetes in their lifetime and for Hispanic and African-American children the rate becomes 50%. Being poor usually means a poor diet as well. In some cities in the United States, a kid’s diet may come mostly from the corner gas station: popcorn, chips, and candy bars are what they fill up on. Access to fresh fruits and vegetables is extremely limited in some areas of the city. In dollars, we are one of the richest countries in the world, but we lag way behind in diet and exercise.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in this country and one of the leading causes of kidney failure. It also greatly increases your chance of having heart disease, neuropathy, or a stroke. One of the most tragic outcomes of uncontrolled diabetes is amputation. Diabetes damages the nerves in the feet and legs and people don’t realize they’ve hurt themselves until infection has set in and then it’s too late. It has a lot in common with leprosy. That’s right leprosy. Only the way in which the nerves are damaged is different.
Amy Jordan is the founder of a youth outreach organization called Sweet Enuff. When Jordan was younger she was at the top of her game as a professional dancer in LA. Jordan didn’t manage her diabetes as a teen. “I ate whatever I wanted.” Says Jordan. “It caught up with me.” She has had diabetes since she was a child. “I am one of the lucky ones, eventually I got a handle on my diabetes as a young adult and started taking really good care of myself.” Jordan is determined to stop diabetes complications from happening to kids due to lack of education and support.
Sweet Enuff encourages lifestyle changes, diet, and fun exercise through Hip Hop dance among young people who either have diabetes or who are at risk of developing it. “At Sweet Enuff we believe if kids feel a sense of hope and purpose about their lives they will instinctively want to take better care of themselves.” Jordan says. “This was true for me and we see it true in so many young people. We provide the practical tools for kids and families to make habit forming transformations in their lives.”
Amy, Genevieve Stamper, the Director of Development for Sweet Enuff, and Christopher Muhammad, a Sweet Enuff beneficiary who began the Sweet Enuff nutrition and fitness program when he was in seventh grade recently appeared on ABC news in New York and talked about the program. They spoke about how many kids will be affected by diabetes and also related their personal stories about how the disease has affected them.
The program operates under the guidelines of the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity headed by the First Lady herself, Michelle Obama. Sweet Enuff is a national nominee for Michelle Obama’s Partnership for a Healthier America Innovation Challenge. The Challenge winners get $10,000 and support for national program expansion. $10,000 goes a long way in bringing the Sweet Enuff Wellness Project and message of wellness and fun to thousands of kids not only in the New York area but across the country. “If we plant enough seeds of Sweet Enuff in enough kids we could see a healthier generation of kids start to grow. Our ultimate goal is to build a new culture of health that’s educational, empowering, and most of all fun!” explains Jordan.
Sweet Enuff sponsors the Sweet Enuff Wellness Project, a program that teaches fitness using hip hop dance, fitness, health and wellness coaching. The Wellness Project culminates with a battle in which participating youth show off their new dance skills. Kids also present their personal solutions to the diabetes and obesity epidemics plaguing their communities. The Wellness Project is unique in that it addresses the physical, nutritional and psycho- social/economic issues around food and wellness. The program also helps create doable solutions for kids and families in communities where good food is scarce and funds are low. When we get to really talking about these issues of diabetes and obesity, kids are very concerned about their families. They want answers to these difficult questions.
Photo credit (l to r): Amy Jordan and First Lady herself, Michelle Obama in Washington DC.
- US Drug Watchdog Now Urges Diabetics Who Used the Diabetes Drug Actos and Have Been Diagnosed with Bladder Cancer to Call the Johnson Law Group to Get Possible Help (prweb.com)
- 5 Big Causes of Diabetes in Children (epicahealth.com)
- Help Harlem’s Sweet Enuff End Childhood Obesity (harlemworldmag.com)