Each year the American Diabetes Association sponsors Diabetes Alert Day on the fourth Tuesday in March. On this day, they try to inform people that they may be at risk for getting Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes now affects over 24 million people in the U.S. This is an increase of 3 million in just two years. The CDC estimates that another 57 million have pre-diabetes as well.
Pre-diabetes occurs when a person has a fasting blood glucose (sugar) level between 100-125. Diabetes is diagnosed when the blood glucose is 126 or higher.
Pre-diabetes can be reversed if people lose at least 5 percent to 7 percent of their current weight, if they are overweight, and if they begin exercising for at least 30 minutes five or more days a week.
This is why Diabetes Alert Day is so important. It gives people an early warning that they need to make changes to lower their risk and improve their health.
The Diabetes Alert Test
To find out whether you are at risk, take the Diabetes Alert Test. The quickest way to take the test is to go online to the American Diabetes Association website. The address for the test is www.diabetes.org/risk-test.jsp. We’ve also included the test below.
Write in the points next to each statement that is true for you. If it is not true, put a zero. Then add your total score.
At Risk Weight Chart
Feet and inches
__ I am a woman who had a baby weighing more than 9 pounds at birth. (1 point)
__ I have a sister or brother with diabetes. (1 point)
__ I have a parent with diabetes. (1 point)
__ My weight is equal to or above that listed on the chart. (5 points)
__ I am under 65 years of age and get little or no exercise. (5 points)
__ I am between 45 and 64 years of age. (5 points)
__ I am 65 years of age or older. (9 points)
__ TOTAL points.
If you scored 10 or more, check with your health care provider to see if you have diabetes. It can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Usually if the first test is high, they will do another to confirm you have diabetes.
If you scored between 3-9 points, you are at low risk now, but keep an eye on your blood glucose. Reduce your risk by losing weight if you are overweight and by being active most days of the week. Change your diet by eating lots of vegetables and fruits and less fatty foods. Switch to whole grain breads and cereals.
As you can see, just getting older and having relatives with diabetes increases your risk. So does having high blood pressure. Weight loss, diet and exercise can improve your blood pressure.
Know the signs of diabetes so you can get treatment early:
- Being extremely thirsty
- Urinating often
- Losing weight without trying
- Feeling more tired than usual
Some people just think these symptoms are a sign of getting older. They may not be. Have your blood glucose checked yearly. You can have undiagnosed diabetes for years and only discover it after having a diabetic complication like a heart attack, stroke or painful nerve damage.