Getting Serious About Diabesity
A large portion of the population of the United States suffers from diabetes. Many more are at risk. Diabetes leads to very serious complications and often to slow, painful death. This is frequently the case in San Antonio, where 18% of adults are diabetic. For too many people, traditional medical approaches have not and are not working. Seriously addressing this problem means working on at least three different levels: 1) fully deploy the new diagnostic technology of hemoglobin A1C, 2) take a community organizing approach to diabetes prevention, and 3) address head-on the excess sugar in the American diet.
Dr. Thomas Schlenker, M.D. is director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and health authority for Bexar County, responsible for its 1.7 million inhabitants. He grew up in Wisconsin, studied political science at Antioch College, medicine at Northwestern, and public health at Harvard. Dr. Schlenker, a board certified pediatrician trained at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, had taken care of sick children and run health departments in Milwaukee, Madison, Salt Lake City, Nicaragua, and Chiapas, Mexico before coming to San Antonio in 2011. He has been a Fulbright Senior Fellow at the National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca, Mexico and has served as adjunct faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. The current foci of his work are teen pregnancy, syphilis, health care financing, and obesity and diabetes, all major concerns of the San Antonio community.