More needs to be done to encourage people to live healthier lifestyles as diabetes cases rise around the world, says Dr John Capotorto, an endocrinologist and co-founder of RestorixHealth, a wound healing centre.
Diabetes is a major cause of severe wounds which can have a detrimental impact on people’s quality of life and in extreme cases can require amputation of limbs.
Dr. Capotorto warns that type two diabetes has become a major public health issue, particularly as it is being increasingly diagnosed in young people, something that can have an adverse impact on the rest of their lives.
He says it is a bigger problem than can be solved in a half hour visit to a doctor and needs to be addressed at a nationwide public health level.
Dr. Capotorto is working to promote a multidisciplinary team approach to the delivery of state-of-the-art wound care across the United States with the primary mission of restoring health and improving the quality of life and access to care for patients with wounds.
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The first step needs to be more action to provide children with healthier food and healthier lifestyles, something that needs to start in school, he says. Educators need to improve the food that children are given for school meals and make sure that children go outdoors and run around during recess so they do not become overweight and can learn early on how to take care of themselves.
That will lessen the chance and age at which they are at risk of developing diabetes, which will in turn reduce the need for wound care, because complications around wounds are directly related to how long a person has had diabetes.
Part of the reason why this issue has not yet been tackled, however, is that it costs more to feed children healthier food at school, something that can be resisted by food service providers. However, Dr. Capotorto says that the greater cost this would involve should be balanced against the far greater cost of looking after patients who are then diagnosed with type two diabetes at the age of 30 because of the poor eating and exercise habits they had when they were younger.
He points out that this is a wider society issue too, as even if the food on offer in schools is healthier, it is still impossible to control what children eat at home and outside school. When the Mayor of New York tried to enforce a reduction in the amount of sugar in food and smaller portion sizes, for example, he faced strong opposition.
It is therefore important to do more studies to assess the long term link between children’s diet and diabetes, for example by getting them to follow healthier lifestyles in the third grade and then tracking them to see the long term impact of this when they are in their 60s.
Dr. Capotorto says it would be good to use predictive models to forecast how many kids will eventually develop diabetes and therefore how many of them will develop wounds that need to be managed. He points out that as a society we have already got these high tech capabilities of predictive analysis, but that right now we are not using them to correct some extremely expensive life altering health events, despite the fact that we already know that if you change certain lifestyle actions, you get better outcomes.