Headshot: Dr Lustig
Headshot: Dr Lustig

There are few things everyone agrees on, but a love of sugar is one of them.

However, when 25 per cent of your population may have diabetes, this sweet tooth is a big problem.

According to US medical expert Dr Robert Lustig, the amount of sugar hidden in processed food and people’s everyday diets has increased significantly since the 1980’s and, in Bermuda, it’s causing a diabetes epidemic.

The Bermuda Diabetes Association wants to give you tools and information to prevent diabetes and to nurture healthy lifestyle choices. Sugar may taste good but it offers no nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, diets that are high in sugar cause problems in the liver because there is a limit to how much our bodies can process, like alcohol. 

This liver disease causes insulin resistance, a key factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes. 

The addition of sugar to 80 per cent of our foods makes them taste sweeter.

Many foods that are labelled ‘low fat’ are much higher in sugar. Removing the fat reduces the flavour, so sugar is added to make these foods more palatable. 

This completely deletes the potential health benefits of reduced dietary fat. Because these foods taste sweet, we like them and buy more and eat more of them. 

You don’t have to be obese to get diabetes. Obesity in Bermuda is similar to US levels, likely because of our food environment where everything is imported.

“In a Bermuda supermarket it’s cheaper to buy a bag of chips than a mango,” notes Dr Lustig.

“This is exactly the pricing structure that foments diabetes.” 

Exercise

Type 2 diabetes is often preventable, so awareness and education is key. Diabetes management for seniors can be challenging due to many issues. 

A not insignificant factor is the cost of fresh foods compared with the processed varieties. Factoring this cost into a budget which is already stretched due to the cost of medications, health insurance, etc, can be a strain.

Taking a walk after meals may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes in seniors by helping to reduce spikes in blood sugar that occur after eating.

A healthy diet and regular exercise not only helps to manage or prevent diabetes, but also helps to prevent common health problems associated with ageing.

“The best way to avoid diabetes is to eat real food,” says Dr Lustig.

“What makes Bermuda unique is that most of the food is imported and highly-processed. Since Bermuda’s food goes through distributors, unhealthy food is promoted because it’s cheaper and easier to sell.”

While everyone may love the taste of those sugary foods, it’s safe to say we’re all looking for a healthier and happier life.

For more information visit www.diabetes.bm