None of us likes to see anyone diagnosed with a major diseases. But, research shows that the diagnosis of diabetes makes middle-aged and older men and women take a major re-evaluation of their eating choices. The diabetes diagnosis will usually encourage them to lose weight and to pay more attention to their diet. The effect of diagnosis of diabetes in children have not yet been studied to determine if they go through the same process.
Being diagnosed for diabetes, or any major disease, forces us to think about our mortality. This fear of dying is a prime motivator in causing the behavioral changes.
The study was done by PhD. Patricia Keenan, an assistant professor in the Yale University School of Public Health in Connecticut. You can read more about the study here.
The data from surveys filled out by over twenty thousand patients were analyzed to discern common patterns in the behavior changes of patients who had been diagnosed in the past year with a serious illness – such as, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and so on. The effect was particularly pronounce in smokers who had been diagnosed with lung disease.
But the effect of a diabetes diagnosis was also stark. The Body Mass Index, BMI, of patients diagnosed with diabetes decreased by an average of .6 units. Also, the changes in eating habits were most pronounced in patients who thought they were in good health before their diabetes diagnosis. In many cases they were shocked of the diagnosis because, in their minds, they were already practicing good health habits.
According to Dr. Samuel Grief, MD, associate professor of clinical family medicine at the University of Illinois, “Most people who suffer a health setback will be more receptive to advice from a health care practitioner to improve him or herself.”
More testing needs to be performed on diabetic patients to determine if the cause for the lower BMI is primarily the diabetes itself, the change in eating habits and lifestyle, or a combination of the two.