Erin lay on a bed in the emergency room, finally serious about getting help. Her second episode of diabetic ketoacidosis in a single year had sent her to the hospital shaking and vomiting. For the past seven years, she had been driven by one desire: to lose forty pounds. She refused to give herself her full dose of insulin, fearing weight gain. She hadn't seen her endocrinologist or checked her blood sugar for a year or two.
Now that a few months have passed since the New Year, what is the state of your resolution to lose weight? If it is a just a painful memory, you might be pondering the strength of your willpower and concluding that it is shamefully weak. In fact, it's not, according to Daniel Akst, the author of We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess. Although a full two-thirds of us are overweight, our willpower is no weaker than that of the slim generations that preceded us. It's just that we're up against temptations that we never evolved to resist, in an environment that seduces rather than sustains us.
Ellen Granberg is an obesity sociologist who studies the processes that people go through when they lose weight and keep it off. As she says, "If the problem were that we don't know what people should eat to lose weight, that would be one thing, but we don't have that problem. There are a hundred weight loss plans out there that are perfectly good. We understand all about the physiology of weight loss maintenance and the metabolic impacts, but nothing about the social and emotional impacts. People who sustain weight loss over time move through a lot of different challenges."
I recently spoke at the Diabetes Camping Association’s annual meeting for healthcare professionals and camp directors. This group serves a network of more than 150 organizations providing summer vacation camp for children, and adults, with diabetes.
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