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Resolve to Prevent or Delay Type 2 Diabetes

The year seems to hurry to a close, and makes us think about our joys, challenges, families…and our health. As you reflect on your family's health history and changes you'd like to make in your own life, resolve to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Eating right, adding physical activity, and practicing healthy habits—these are all positive things for your health right now.

What are Diabetes and Prediabetes?

Photo: Fruits and vegetables on forksDiabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.

A person with prediabetes has a blood sugar level higher than normal, but not high enough yet for a diagnosis of diabetes. He or she is at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke.

Photo: Two women walkingThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 of every 3 US adults had prediabetes in 2010. The vast majority of people living with prediabetes, though, do not even know they have it.

  • 79 million Americans—35% of adults aged 20 years and older—have prediabetes.
  • Half of all Americans aged 65 years and older have prediabetes.
  • Without lifestyle changes to improve their health, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

How Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Prevented?

Research shows that modest weight loss and regular physical activity can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by up to 58% in people with prediabetes. Modest weight loss means 5% to 7% of body weight, which is 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Getting at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity, such as brisk walking, also is important.

The lifestyle change program offered through the National Diabetes Prevention Program, led by CDC, can help participants adopt the healthy habits needed to prevent type 2 diabetes. You can find a program in your community.

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes

Photo: Man checking labels on boxes in grocery storeMany factors increase your risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, including:

  • Being 45 years of age or older.
  • Being overweight.
  • Having a parent with diabetes.
  • Having a sister or brother with diabetes.
  • Having a family background that is African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American-Indian, Asian-American, or Pacific-Islander.
  • Having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), or giving birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
  • Being physically active less than three times a week.

It is important to find out early if you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, because early treatment can prevent serious problems that diabetes can cause, such as loss of eyesight or kidney damage.

You can end the year well and start fresh in the New Year. Resolve to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes today.

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