Put Down That Cupcake

This week thousands of spectators crowded around 30 Rockefeller Plaza to see the lighting of its world-famous Christmas tree. No doubt the holiday season is upon us, and soon we’ll be surrounded by sweets and baked goods. Perfect timing for our show this week where I focused on the millions of Americans who need to watch each grain of sugar that passes through their lips. I’m talking about people who suffer from diabetes – there’s over 25 million of them, and everyone with extra weight is at risk.

This week thousands of spectators crowded around 30 Rockefeller Plaza to see the lighting of its world-famous Christmas tree. No doubt the holiday season is upon us, and soon we’ll be surrounded by sweets and baked goods. Perfect timing for our show this week where I focused on the millions of Americans who need to watch each grain of sugar that passes through their lips. I’m talking about people who suffer from diabetes – there’s over 25 million of them, and everyone with extra weight is at risk.

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood contains too much sugar. For most people, it’s because their excess weight makes them resistant to insulin, the hormone that transports sugar out of blood and into places like muscle. That excess sugar is like shards of glass scraping the inside of your arteries, and it dramatically increases your risk of heart attacks, limb amputations, blindness, and other devastating complications.


The scariest part of the whole diabetes epidemic?  A staggering 40% of those suffering from the disease don’t even know they have it! Another 57 million people suffer from a condition known as pre-diabetes, in which blood sugars are dangerously close to slipping into diabetic range.

If you’re over 40 years old, you must get screened. If you’re younger but have risk factors -- like high cholesterol, a BMI over 25, hypertension, inactive lifestyle, or a family history -- you should also get screened. There’s one reason above all others to get tested – diabetes is a disease that you can prevent. And if you do get it, you often have the power to actually reverse it. For tips on getting screened and learning what your numbers mean, visit the Know Your Numbers Challenge.

We first met a wonderful young man, Jared, at our free diabetes screening event in Times Square that we held with Oprah’s fitness guru, Bob Greene. We brought Jared to our studio, where I was shocked to discover that his blood glucose level was over twice the tolerable level. I had no choice but to send him straight from our studio to the emergency room.  He was afraid -- and I was afraid for him -- but I knew this was the wake up call Jared needed to change his life. We’ll be following Jared as we help him make the journey from diabetes back into health and wellness.

My hope is that YOU also learn from Jared’s story. Check out Bob Greene’s 12-Week Fitness Plan and the Best Life daily menu for diabetes or pre-diabetes.  Be aware of the types of food you are putting into your body. And this holiday season, remember that there’s no greater gift you can offer your loved ones than your own health.

Your Parent Has Dementia: What to Talk to Their Doctor About

Make sure all their doctors are aware of all the medications she is taking.

Q: My mom is 94 and has dementia. She is taking a whole medicine cabinet-full of medications and I think they actually make her fuzzier. How should I talk to her various doctors about what she is taking and if she can get off some of the meds? — Gary R., Denver, Colorado

A: Many dementia patients are taking what docs call a "polypharmacy" — three or more medications that affect their central nervous system. And we really don't know how that mixture truly affects each individual person.

A new study in JAMA Network that looked at more than 1 million Medicare patients found almost 14% of them were taking a potentially harmful mix of antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan, nonbenzodiazepine benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics such as Ambien or Sonata, and opioids. And almost a third of those folks were taking five or more such medications. The most common medication combination included an antidepressant, an antiepileptic, and an antipsychotic. Gabapentin was the most common medication — often for off-label uses, such as to ease chronic pain or treat psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan.

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