Type-2 Diabetes: Are YOU at Risk?
Chances are, most of us have a friend or family member who is diabetic. Type-2 diabetes develops when the body is unable to use the hormone insulin properly, causing blood glucose to stay high after eating (hyperglycemia). If left untreated, hyperglycemia can cause serious complications such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, kidney disease, nervous system disease and even amputations and blindness. The American Diabetes Association reports that diabetes is responsible for more deaths in the U.S. per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 26 million Americans already have diabetes and another 79 million (35% of our population) have a condition known as pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are not quite high enough to be diabetic, but are definitely at a level to cause concern. It is reported that 15% to 30% of people with pre-diabetes will likely develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
So, what is behind this diabetes epidemic? It turns out that the increase in diabetes and pre-diabetes cases mirrors the increased number of overweight and obese Americans. The CDC reports that 80% to 90% of people with type-2 diabetes are also considered overweight or obese.
The good news is that with healthy lifestyle changes, many people with pre-diabetes can restore their blood glucose to normal levels. A 3-year diabetes prevention study of over 3,000 subjects, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), demonstrated the power of maintained weight loss in lowering the risk for type-2 diabetes. Participants that adopted healthy eating habits (like reduction of dietary fat) and increased physical activity (150 minutes minimum equivalent to brisk walking) were able to reduce their body weight by 7%. This modest, and sustained, weight reduction significantly improved the body’s ability to use insulin and process glucose, lowering the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Often, people with pre-diabetes do not show any symptoms and may not even know there is cause for concern. The American Diabetes Association recommends that if you are overweight (BMI>25) with one or more of the following risk factors you should be tested by your health care provider:
- Older than age 45
- Physically inactive
- A parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
- African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander
- History of gestational diabetes or had >9 lb. baby
- High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)
- HDL cholesterol <35mg/dL or triglycerides >250mg/dL
- History of polycystic ovary syndrome
- History of cardiovascular disease
If you are pre-diabetic, making wise lifestyle changes can drastically improve your health and delay or prevent type-2 diabetes. Remember to talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your diet or exercise patterns. Consider these tips to improve your weight management:
- Eat less fat, especially saturated and trans fats (fatty meats, whole milk and dairy products, processed bakery items, margarine, fried foods)
- Eat more whole grains and beans to increase your fiber
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (fresh is best, but frozen or canned count too)
- Reduce processed foods with added sugars and sodium
- Keep an eye on portions to reduce your volume or calories (and fat!)
- Eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day instead of eating large meals
- Stop eating when you feel satisfied
- Drink water throughout the day!
- Get up and be active! Start a walking program slowly, then pick up the pace
If you want to learn more about preventing and managing pre-diabetes, visit
If you don’t know what your Body Mass Index (BMI) is, check out the CDC BMI Calculator
Interested in Healthy Meal Planning and Cooking with Diabetes? Sign up for a 2-hour workshop offered on the following dates:
October 9th 6:00 pm at the Leon County Extension Office (call 850-606-5200 to register)
October 14th 6:00 pm at the Wakulla County Extension Office (call 850-926-3931 to register)
October 29th 6:00 pm at the Liberty County Extension Office (call 850-643-2229 to register)
Nov. 12th 6:00 pm at the Jefferson County Extension Office (call 850-342-0187 to register)