Health Column: November is Diabetes Awareness Month
Thu 3, 2019

Do you have a high chance of developing type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes? You might be overweight or have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes. Maybe you had gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that develops during pregnancy. These are just a few examples of factors that can raise your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. There are 30.3 million people with diabetes (9.4 percent of the U.S. population) including 23.1 million people who are diagnosed and 7.2 million people (23.8 pecent) undiagnosed. The numbers for prediabetes indicate that 84.1 million adults (33.9 percent of the adult U.S. population) have prediabetes, including 23.1 million adults aged 65 years or older (the age group with highest rate).

Diabetes can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and eye and foot problems. Prediabetes also can cause health problems. The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even prevented. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to develop health problems, so delaying diabetes by even a few years will benefit your health. 

Here are some things you can change to lower your risk:

  • Lose weight and keep it off. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing five to seven percent of your starting weight. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.
  • Move more. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional about which activities are best. Start slowly to build up to your goal.
  • Eat healthy foods most of the time. Eat smaller portions to reduce the amount of calories you eat each day and help you lose weight. Choosing foods with less fat is another way to reduce calories. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages.

Prediabetes is when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes is serious because it raises your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Many of the same factors that raise your chance of developing type 2 diabetes put you at risk for prediabetes.

Other names for prediabetes include impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance. Some people call prediabetes “borderline diabetes.”

About 1 in 3 Americans has prediabetes, according to recent diabetes statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You won’t know if you have prediabetes unless you are tested.

Ask your health care professional about what other changes you can make to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. 

Information retrieved from cdc.gov and the National Institute of Health.

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