Health Advocate Blog

Diabetes Awareness Month: What you should know

More than 34 million Americans (about 1 in 10) have diabetes, and approximately 95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but children and young people are also developing it. It’s important to understand what you can do to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

Fast Facts

  • Type 1 diabetesis a disorder that typically begins before adulthood where the body does not make the insulin hormone that helps blood sugar (glucose) enter the cells to be used for energy
  • Type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body doesn’t properly use glucose for energy
  • In people with diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood; if left untreated, this can lead to serious health issues like glaucoma and nerve damage
  • Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes
  • While there’s no known prevention for type 1 diabetes, healthy lifestyle changes can help better manage this condition

Understand your risk of type 2 diabetes

The cause of type 2 diabetes is not completely understood, but certain factors can put you at risk.

  • Excess weight, including being overweight or obese
  • Age 40 or older
  • Family history of diabetes, specifically a parent, brother or sister
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of exercise
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Previous or existing medical conditions, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome or cardiovascular disease

Take action now!

Changing these lifestyle factors can help you lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and also help you be healthier in general.

  • Lose weight. Aim to lose weight through healthy eating and exercise. Even losing just a few pounds can help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes!
  • Be active. Keep moving as much as you can and reduce your time spent sitting. Aim to exercise 150 minutes a week—walking can be a great exercise to start with. Talk to your doctor first if you are new to exercise.
  • Eat better. Choose balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and other high-fiber foods. Eat consistent, moderate amounts of food at regular intervals. Limit added sugars.
  • Quit tobacco. People who quit smoking reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by over 50%!

Remember to schedule your annual physical that includes blood work with a glucose test.

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