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MARCH 24, 2008   

Sign of the times?

Many boxes of blood-sugar testing products on shelvesYou may not recognize the digital devices lined up on shelves behind the register at the Marc's pharmacy, but they are all too familiar to me. Since my grandson was diagnosed with Type I diabetes years ago, I've had to learn how to test his blood sugar using something similar to what you see here.

Diabetes becomes a constant companion, not only for the individual with it, but for those around him or her. My grandson does a great job of managing his diabetes by checking his blood sugar level many times a day, and taking insulin as needed. He's an active, lively 10-year-old, and it's sometimes easy to forget how his life is governed by diabetes.

HIs disease could not have been predicted or prevented, he just has to deal with it. What struck me, however, when I saw all these boxes of testers, is that in the U.S. the numbers of people with Type II diabetes is climbing dramatically. Studies seem to indicate a connection between obesity and diabetes. If this is true, we are increasingly eating ourselves sick.

It is hardly an original observation but still worth noting that the "American Way" of super-sized fries, Big Gulps and the "free" 72 oz. Steak Dinner (if you eat it in an hour) may be making us more susceptible to diabetes.

Coke Classic Nutrition labelCheck nutritional information label on the drinks and snacks you buy at the store sometime. It's not uncommon that the bottle that we typically swig down at one sitting is actually two or more "servings" as shown on the label, like this one from Coke Classic. When was the last time you had an 8 ounce bottle of Coke?

I actually had a "small" coffee recently in an 8-ounce cup (only 75 cents at City Roast Coffee at the West Side Market). It felt odd—I'm so used to "small" being the 12-ounce cup that is standard at most coffeeshops and restaurants.

Maybe in the same way that the "slow food" movement encourages people to enjoy the experience of eating rather than grabbing a "fast food" meal, we need a "small food" movement that places a premium on quality, not quantity. More is not necessarily better, in fact it may be worse. If we don't change our ways those shelves will only get more crowded with diabetes supplies.

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MARCH 2008