That there is an epidemic of obesity, or overweight, in the United States is self-evident. A brief visit to an amusement park or to any other gathering of a cross-section of our countrymen will quickly convince skeptics that we are a nation of very large people. As one of our infectious diseases fellows (not an American) remarked to me not once but several times recently, "My concept of overweight keeps changing, as I see larger and larger people here in the US."
With this epidemic of obesity has come an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, not only affecting adults but also children, particularly teens. The articles in this issue of Pediatric Annals review the status of type 2 diabetes and some of its associated conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Unfortunately, we pediatricians must become familiar with these illnesses as they are now common. Much valuable practical advice can be gleaned from these articles, including detailed nutritional advice for the management of the overweight child with diabetes.
Three stamps have been chosen to illustrate this column. The 2001 34-cent US stamp exhorts us to "Know more about diabetes," portraying a tube (of urine for reducing substances?) and a microscope. The 1990 stamp from Transkei pictures Aretaeus the Cappadocian (probably 81-138 AD, rather than the years 130-200 indicated on the stamp) with his quote, "Diabetes is a remarkable affection not very frequent among men, being a melting down of the flesh ..." This Greek physician, who ranks second only to Hippocrates in his clinical descriptions of important diseases (diabetes, diphtheria, asthma, pleurisy, etc.), actually coined the term diabetes from the Greek word for siphon, acknowledging clinical features such as polyuria and severe thirst.
The third stamp illustrated was issued by Monaco in 2005 to honor Alexander Wood (1817-1884) of Edinburgh, Scotland, who "invente en 1855 la seringue hypodermique." In fact, several others had invented syringes previously, but Wood modified the needle point and actually introduced the hypodermic method of injection for the treatment of patients. One of Wood's original hypodermic syringes is now in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.