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WebMD’s Chief Medical Officer Talks About Diabetes Prevention

WebMD’s Chief Medical Officer Talks About Diabetes Prevention. Dr. John Whyte, chief medical officer for WebMD and author of “Take Control of Your Diabetes Risk,” says nearly 95 million people are pre-diabetic, and nearly half of those don’t know it. Dr. Whyte joins the Phil in the Blanks podcast to share with Dr. Phil what we can do today to prevent the risk of developing diabetes later on.


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· WebMD, world’s largest provider of trusted health information.

· Take Control of Your Diabetes Risk shares straightforward information and equips you with strategies to help you on a journey to better health, including:

o Knowing the causes of the different types of diabetes

o Learning the role food, exercise, and sleep play

o Understanding the r’ship btwn between diabetes, heart disease, and cancer

· ~1.5 M Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year.

· Over 34 M Americans have diabetes (1 in 10) and 20% don’t even know it; nearly 95 M people have prediabetes (1 in 3) and don’t know it.

· I want to empower people with good information to take control of their own health.


· Type 1 diabetes means you are insulin deficient. Your pancreas doesn’t make it. With type 2, you are insulin resistant. Your cells can’t use the insulin and are resistant to it.

· It can be prevented with screening, good advice and recognizing pre-diabetes. If you get diabetes, your life isn’t destined for insulin.

· You don’t wake up one day with a blood sugar of 250. Your behaviors over many years will cause this diagnosis.

· At least once a year, I say to a patient that if they lost weight, they could possibly come off their medicine. They say, “I’ve been fat my whole life, and I’ve only had diabetes for 2 years.” It’s choices over time.

· A lot of people with pre-diabetes don’t have symptoms or they ignore symptoms. They are thirsty a lot or they are hungry. They pee a lot. The glucose is pulling out all the water.

· That’s why it’s important to get your blood level checked 1x a year and watch your weight.

· You may have pre-diabetes before you start to develop symptoms.

· If you feel tingling in your body, that’s not good.

· Once you are diagnosed, you are always going to be at-risk, but you can make different choices.

· Sometimes, I think DRs are too quick to put a patient on medication. Eat healthy, be physically active, get restorative sleep. Address your mood - chronic stress elevates blood sugar.


· It’s a myth that sugar causes diabetes. It’s an issue of weight.

· 90% of type 2 diabetes is caused by lifestyle. When people realize that, they want to know how to prevent it.

· Some people think diabetes isn’t serious. It’s a common cause of amputation. It’s the #1 cause of blindness. If you’re a woman, you don’t develop heart disease until you’re 60. With diabetes, it’s 40.

· There is a belief that most diabetes is caused by family history; it is not. It’s caused by lifestyle.

· You can do all the right things, but if you sleep 3 hours a night, your blood sugar is hard to control.

· “No one in my family has it so I don’t need to worry” is also a myth. So is, “I know someone much heavier and they are fine.”

· People think you can’t eat fruit. You can. It’s all about educating yourself. I’m not here to judge, but here to give people better information.


· If you asked me 10 years ago, I’d say we can’t reverse this diagnosis.

· In the last 5 years, we have learned if you act early, you may be able to reverse diabetes & get back to normal blood sugar.

· DRs don’t usually talk to patients about diet, exercise, stress, and depression. They say eat healthy. That can be confusing.

· As a doctor, I’ve always wanted to empower people with their own knowledge.

· Type 2 diabetes also has a genetic risk component that you cannot change. I like to make the comparison to cancer – you can send diabetes and prediabetes into "remission."

· Stress causes problems with blood sugar. Cortisol levels get higher, and cells become resistant.

· People aren’t talking about chronic daily stress. Challenges with mood and depression impact blood sugar control.


· If you do have diabetes, if you catch it early on, you may be able to reverse it.

  • Focus less on a specific diet and instead create a pattern of eating. This should include fish at least twice a week, fruits and vegetables every day, and limits on drinks besides water.

  • Exercise smarter, not longer. Consider high-intensity exercise such as power walking for 10 minutes, 3X a week.

  • Recognize the mind-body connection. Stress will impact your hormones, which will affect your blood sugar. Mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude play a role in diabetes management.

  • Make better daily choices over time. Doesn’t mean you can’t have pizza. Don’t do it every day. (Yes, every other day is often).

  • People lose sight of what they’re eating. Food journals for a short period of time can be effective. When patients write it down, they say they were surprised by that. They’re not just eating salads every day!

  • It’s not just about food and exercise. It’s the role of mood and stress and emotion.

  • The biggest change you can make today is to stop drinking beverages besides water.

  • 20% eat fish one day a week. 80% of the population doesn’t eat at all. If you replaced one meal with fish, that is effective.

  • Stay consistent.

  • Exercise needs to be the focus as a tool for longevity, not a tool for cosmetics. You should want to exercise to help you live longer.

  • Exercise is as close to a magic pill that we have.


You have the power to reclaim your life after a prediabetes or diabetes diagnosis.

  • There’s a great chapter on diabetes depression. It’s when people do worse after getting a diagnosis.

  • Pre-diabetes is going to get worse. We have all been gaining weight the past 2 years. Some can be reversed, esp early on.

  • So, pay attention and take care of yourself.

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Podcast Page: DrPhilintheBlanks

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John Whyte, MD, MPH, is a popular physician and writer who has been communicating to the public about health issues for nearly two decades.

Whyte is the Chief Medical Officer, WebMD. In this role, Whyte leads efforts to develop and expand strategic partnerships that create meaningful change around important and timely public health issues. Prior to WebMD, Whyte served as the director of professional affairs and stakeholder engagement at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Whyte worked with health care professionals, patients, and patient advocates, providing them with a focal point for advocacy, enhanced two-way communication, and collaboration, assisting them in navigating the FDA on issues concerning drug development, review, and drug safety. He also developed numerous initiatives to address diversity in clinical trials.

Prior to this, Whyte worked for nearly a decade as the chief medical expert and vice president, health and medical education, at Discovery Channel, the leading nonfiction television network. In this role, Whyte developed, designed, and delivered educational programming that appealed to both a medical and lay audience. This included television shows as well as online content that won over 50 awards including numerous Tellys, CINE Golden Eagle, and Freddies.

Whyte is a board-certified internist. He completed an internal medicine residency at Duke University Medical Center as well as earned a Master of Public Health in health policy and management at Harvard University School of Public Health. Prior to arriving in Washington, Whyte was a health services research fellow at Stanford and attending physician in the department of medicine. He has written extensively in the medical and lay press.

He continues to see patients in Washington, DC, and Maryland.

Books Published With WebMD

Highlights of Dr. Whyte's Work With WebMD



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