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April 2009 Issue

Keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal (nondiabetic) for people with diabetes can prevent or slow the progression of complications.
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Good Habits a 'Family Affair' for People With Diabetes

Published April 2009

Family members can often point to a number of similarities among each other, but one that’s increasing in frequency is diabetes.

A growing number of families have multiple members with this disease. And it’s not just limited to adults. Children and teens are developing diabetes at much higher rates.

Diabetologists Robert Cohen, MD, and Jenny Tong, MD, member of UC Physicians, say making lifestyle changes and encouraging healthy habits can make all the difference for yourself and other family members with diabetes.

“It’s important to remember that taking care of yourself with diabetes takes day-to-day vigilance even when your focus should be on long-term goals like preventing complications that may take years to develop,” says Cohen, an associate professor in UC’s endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism division.

Cohen says adults with diabetes—and even those without—can teach their children important lessons about lifestyle, food and physical activity that will be with them for a lifetime.

Tong, assistant professor of endocrinology, says staying physically active is especially important for people with diabetes. But she cautions that an exercise program should be coordinated with a balanced diet and controlled diabetes.

“Exercise generally tends to lower the blood sugar, but there are situations in which it can cause it to rise, especially in individuals with poorly controlled blood sugar,” she says. “Changes in diabetes medications and food intake are frequently needed to prevent dangerous consequences and it is best when those are planned for in advance.”

Tong points out that high blood sugar after exercising usually occurs in people who have poorly controlled diabetes. Exercise can also have different effects on people with different types of diabetes, so it’s important to consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 23 million Americans have diabetes— with nearly 6 million of those cases yet to be diagnosed.

To schedule an appointment at UC’s Diabetes Center, call (513) 475-8200.

UC Health Line features information and tips for consumers. Read new Health Lines every Thursday or access story archives at

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