March 25th is Diabetes Alert Day
State health officials are urging people to learn their risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes.
“Diabetes is a serious disease that affects the way your body uses food, and if left untreated, it can slowly damage blood vessels and nerves with no warning.” said Dr. Sheri Johnson, State Health Officer. “Type 1 diabetes is not preventable, but with regular exercise, eating a diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables, and proper weight control it is possible to delay or even prevent Type 2 diabetes. There is a lot you can do to learn your risks and to take action.”
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and is usually diagnosed before the age of 30. With this type of diabetes, the body has little or no insulin, which the body needs to control the amount of sugar in the blood. Type 2 diabetes may be preventable with exercise, diet and proper weight control and is usually diagnosed after the age of 40. With Type 2 diabetes, the body has some but not enough insulin, and the body may not use the insulin as it normally should.
Before people develop Type 2 diabetes, they have “pre-diabetes” — blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
“There are 54 million people in the United States who have pre-diabetes,” Johnson said. “Some three-fourths of people with diabetes have no symptoms. Testing through your health care provider is the best way to find out if you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. If you find out you have the disease, then you can get started on a treatment plan.”
Johnson said that significant disparities exist in the prevalence of diabetes. In Wisconsin, American Indians have the highest rate of Type 2 diabetes, at almost 6 times the rate of whites. African Americans and Hispanics have the second and third highest rates, almost one and a half times more than whites. Asians have a diabetes rate just slightly higher than whites.
Communities can promote healthier environments and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by:
• asking restaurants, school lunch programs, vending companies, and work cafeterias to offer healthy food choices,
• working with grocery stores and markets to increase fruit and vegetable consumption,
• promoting programs to expand community physical activity opportunities, such as creating new biking/walking paths or opening school gyms and pools for community use,
• encouraging everyone to know the risk factors for developing diabetes, and;
• joining and encouraging others to take part in diabetes awareness and community events.
“Studies show Type 2 diabetes is linked to family history, increasing age, lack of exercise, and being overweight,” Johnson said. “While you can’t change your family history, you can make sure you are proactive in preventing it.”
For more information about Diabetes Prevention and Control, visit http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/health/diabetes/index.htm