New data released last week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paint an urgent picture of the state of diabetes, estimating that nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States are now living with diabetes. With one out of every three Americans at high risk for type 2 diabetes, emphasis must be placed on prevention and lifestyle modifications that can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes, a debilitating disease that can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and death.
“We’ve seen that diabetes has been on the rise for quite a while, but the new data from the CDC is a real wake-up call. One in four Americans living with diabetes is still undiagnosed, highlighting how essential it is for Americans to know if they are at risk and take action, if needed,” said Robert R. Henry, MD, President, Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association. “Let’s use these devastating new numbers as inspiration to work harder and stop diabetes in its tracks.”
Early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is critical to successful treatment and delaying and preventing some of its complications. For many, diagnosis may come seven to ten years after the actual onset of diabetes, often only after patients have already started to show signs of one or more of its complications. Studies have shown that exercising 150 minutes a week and losing 7% of your body weight (about 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds), can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by 57%.
The American Diabetes Association offers tips to help prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes and its complications:
- Know Your Risk. There are certain risk factors you can’t change, including being over 45 years of age, a family history of diabetes, or coming from a certain family background (African American, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander, or Hispanic/Latino). Other risk factors you can control include being overweight or inactive, eating an unhealthy diet, smoking, or having higher than normal blood glucose, blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
- Get a Check Up. Don’t wait until you get sick to see your health care provider. Schedule a complete evaluation to learn your numbers, including:
- Blood glucose — There are three different tests that measure blood glucose levels: A1C, Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) and Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGGT). These tests will determine if prediabetes or diabetes is present.
- Blood pressure level — A healthy blood pressure level is below 120/80. Early high blood pressure is between 120/80 and 140/90. High blood pressure is 140/90 and higher.
- Blood lipid levels — A blood lipid test measures HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol) and triglycerides. To maintain optimal health, it is important to be aware of your lipid levels and to maintain low LDL cholesterol levels.
- Move Those Feet. Experts suggest exercising 30 minutes a day most days of the week. If exercising that long is intimidating at first, try walking 10 minutes most days of the week. Find other ways to be more active, such as taking the stairs and parking farther away.
- Sneak in Healthy Foods. Instead of making a complete lifestyle change, try incorporating one small change into your diet at a time. Choose lower-calorie snacks, eat a salad and a vegetable with dinner, or take home half of your main course when you eat out.
The American Diabetes Association offers free resources for those at risk for type 2 diabetes:
- My Health Advisor — Calculate your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease by entering some basic health information. After your risk is calculated, you can quickly and easily see the difference simple lifestyle changes — like losing 10 pounds or quitting smoking — can make in your overall risk.
- CheckUp America — Get in-depth information about the different risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes and what you can do to lower that risk.
- Center for Information and Community Support – By calling 800-DIABETES or chatting with a representative online, you can request free information in English and Spanish, including the new booklet Top 5 Ways to Stop Diabetes and Get Healthy Right Now!
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to stop diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.