Adam Gonzalez has bucked the diabetes odds and, while it’s uncertain his success can be duplicated, it’s a rare note of good news in the constant drumbeat of negativity regarding kids and diabetes.
I first heard about Adam, who is 23, at the end of a long interview with Dr. Jane Lynch. She’s professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio School of Medicine and the principal investigator in a national study looking at how diabetes affects kids and the best way to treat it.
Nationwide, about one in 400 children has diabetes.
Results of the study of 699 children were almost uniformly negative. Kids newly diagnosed with diabetes got sicker faster than expected.
Even more distressing is how poorly these kids did despite the lengths researchers went to treat them. Before being chosen for the study, the kids had to have had their blood pressure under control, they needed a family member willing to come with them to appointments and they had to sign a contract saying they’d follow the rules.
The kids were put into one of three groups. The first received the diabetes drug metformin, the second metformin combined with the insulin sensitizer rosiglitazone and the third metformin plus intensive lifestyle intervention — which included having someone come to their home to exercise with them, take them to a pool to swim, etc. In the end, all three groups did almost equally as poorly.
In other words, despite being in a best-case scenario, the kids remain at high risk of diabetes-related heart disease and stroke, hypertension, blindness, kidney disease, amputation and death. Which brings us to Adam Gonzalez. At 15, Gonzalez weighed about 270 pounds and lived on a diet of “soda, gummi bears and McDonald’s.” While in the study, he learned such diabetes-prevention basics as portion control and the importance of eating a balanced diet. And he began running for exercise. Over time he lost 70 pounds.
After seeing 2012: Time for a Change, a documentary about how to make society more sustainable, Gonzalez traveled and lived on an organic farm in Colorado where he’s learned about herbal medicine, began eating a mostly plant-based diet and started making herb-based salves.
He’s no longer taking drugs for his diabetes and, to paraphrase Scarlett O’Hara, he’s promised himself that he will never be overweight again.