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November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Published October 22, 2012
woman with diabetes does a finger-prick test for blood sugar

If current trends continue, the Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) projects that as many as one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050. Did you know that 27 percent of people with type 2 diabetes don’t know they have it? The 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet reports these statistics:  


·         25.8 million children and adults, or 8.3 percent of the population, have diabetes

·         7.0 million of these people are undiagnosed cases; 27 percent of those with diabetes don’t know they have it

·         Pre-diabetes affects 35 percent of adults aged 20 and older and half of Americans aged 65 and older

"These alarming numbers emphasize how important it is to prevent type 2 diabetes and help people who have already been diagnosed to better control the disease and prevent potential complications,” said University of Illinois nutrition and wellness educator Marilyn Csernus. 

Type 2 diabetes, previously known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases. Type 2 diabetes develops over time as the body gradually loses its ability to use and produce insulin effectively, she said.

“Most people have pre-diabetes for a number of years before they develop type 2 diabetes. In pre-diabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but they are not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis,” she added.

Having pre-diabetes increases the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.  But studies have shown that persons who lose weight and increase their physical activity can possibly prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, she noted.

“The good news is that research shows that people at a high risk for diabetes can decrease the disease’s development by taking lifestyle measures to reduce weight and increase physical activity,” she said.

Part of diabetes awareness is identifying and decreasing risk factors. These risk factors include being overweight, being 45 years old or older, having had gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant) or giving birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more, having a family history of diabetes, getting little physical activity; and being African-American, American Indian or a native of Alaska, Hispanic, Asian-American, or a Pacific Islander, she said.

"Not all risk factors can be controlled or reduced, but there are many lifestyle factors that can be modified. Some very important modifiable risk factors are choosing a healthier diet and increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight range,” Csernus said.

Learn whether you are at a low, medium or high risk of developing type 2 diabetes by taking theType 2 Diabetes Risk Test on the American Diabetes Association website at .

“If the test results indicate you are at medium to high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, see your health care provider and take steps to reduce these risk,” she said. “Prevention, early diagnosis, and making healthy lifestyle changes are the keys to preventing diabetes or delaying development of its complications,” she said.