An alarming 25 percent of people with diabetes are unaware that they have the disease — just one reason why the fourth Tuesday of every March is dedicated to raising diabetes awareness.
Are you worried about your chances of developing type 2 diabetes? If you’re not, you should be.
Diabetes Risk Factors
That’s because the numbers are staggering: Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and another 79 million are considered prediabetic and at high risk of developing the condition. Yet perhaps the most frightening statistic of all is that one in four people with diabetes isn’t even aware that he or she has the disease, because the symptoms may be mild to non-existent. And over time, untreated diabetes can cause big health problems — from heart disease to nerve damage to blindness.
But there’s an easy way to find out if you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes. The fourth Tuesday of every March (that’s tomorrow!) is the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Alert Day, focused on raising awareness of this disease through a simple online test.
Unlike type 1 diabetes, which is usually first diagnosed in children and teens, type 2 diabetes is more common in those over age 40 (although the numbers of kids with type 2 has also gone up in recent years). Other factors that influence diabetes risk include family history, ethnic background, being obese or overweight, having a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy), or inactivity.
The ADA’s Diabetes Risk Test can’t diagnose type 2 diabetes or prediabetes — for that, you’ll need to visit your doctor. But learning about your diabetes risk can give you the incentive you need to get started on the road to a healthier lifestyle, and in the process cut your chances of getting the disease.
Want more proof? A September 2011 study in Annals of Internal Medicine, which reviewed data from more than 200,000 adults, found the five most important lifestyle factors for preventing type 2 diabetes were eating a healthy diet, keeping body mass index (BMI) below 25, not smoking, getting at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, and drinking in moderation. And while doing any one of these was shown to reduce diabetes risk, the researchers concluded that accomplishing all five can cut risk by a whopping 80 percent.
To take the Diabetes Risk Test, visit the ADA’s Facebook page or Web site beginning tomorrow, or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). You’ll be helping to raise funds for a good cause: For each test taken until April 27, 2012, the company Boar’s Head has pledged to donate $5 to the association. And your responses could just turn out to be a life-saver for you or someone you know.
Follow @DiabetesFacts for the latest diabetes news and information from the editors of @EverydayHealth.