Arm yourself with the facts about diabetes

Posted: November 10th, 2017 | Columns, Featured, Get Fit, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle | No Comments

By Erica Moe

Editor’s Note: This column was adapted from content provided by Y of the USA for National Diabetes Month.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. The YMCA wants to spread the word and encourage you to know your risk for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects more than 29 million people. Chances are you know at least one person with diabetes and probably more than one with prediabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes blood-sugar levels to rise higher than normal. A condition called prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. More than 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes has no cure, but prediabetes can be reversed.

(Photo courtesy of Mission Valley YMCA)

The number of Type 2 diabetes cases continues to grow, fueled in part by a continued rise in the rate of obesity. Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years.

Diabetes facts

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research shows that:

  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Diabetes disproportionately affects black and Latino populations. These groups are nearly two times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.
  • People with diabetes are approximately 50 percent more likely to die than people of the same age without diabetes.
  • Medical expenses for people with diabetes are 2.3 times greater than those without the disease.
  • People with diabetes are at greater risk for stroke, nerve damage, blindness, dental disease, lower limb amputation, depression and complications during pregnancy.

The good news

While only a blood test by a health care provider can confirm prediabetes, a person’s family history, weight and high cholesterol levels are a few of the factors that can put an individual in the high-risk category.

(Photo courtesy of Mission Valley YMCA)

If you believe you are at risk for developing diabetes, there are actions you can take. People with prediabetes who make basic lifestyle changes – such as modest weight loss, healthy eating and regular physical activity – can reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

A diabetes prevention program focuses on:

  • Eating heathy: Consume smaller portions and reduce fat in your diet. Discovering healthier foods can help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Increasing physical activity: Engage in thirty minutes of moderate physical activity – such as walking, swimming or mowing the lawn – five days a week. This can help improve your blood pressure, raise your good cholesterol and prevent blood flow problems.
  • Losing weight: Reduce your body weight by as little as 5 to 7 percent. This can offer tremendous benefits for people at risk for diabetes.

The YMCA can help

In January, Toby Wells YMCA will begin a new session of JumpStart for Health, a diabetes prevention program that is free to members. New sessions are also planned at other nearby branches.

— Erica Moe, M.S., is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of the Mission Valley YMCA where she is fitness director.

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