Diabetes is a big problem in America. And all too often, the people who are most affected by the disease are not even aware of their status.
American Diabetes Association (ADA) Alert Day will be celebrated on March 26. The ADA describes it as “a one-day wake-up call’’ for the American public to find out their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25.8 million Americans have the disease, which amounts to about 8.3 percent of the US population. However, it is estimated that around seven million of these people are not aware of their condition.
The CDC reports that “diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower limb amputations and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.” It is also a major cause of heart disease and stroke and is the seventh leading cause of death in the US.
The ADA stresses early diagnosis as a method of protecting patients from the complications that can develop alongside the characteristic high blood sugar levels of diabetes. Many people do not receive a diagnosis until they have already had the disease for nearly a decade.
The risk for diabetes is greatest in overweight people over the age of 45 with a sedentary lifestyle. The risk is higher in people with a family history of diabetes and in certain ethnic groups, including African Americans and Latinos.
Though some risk factors – like age and ethnicity – cannot be changed, people can have a large effect on factors like weight, lifestyle and diet.
“Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of body weight (such as 15 pounds if you weigh 200) through regular physical activity (30 minutes a day, five days a week) and healthy eating,” reports the ADA.
The Alert Day is observed annually on the fourth Tuesday in March. The ADA suggests that people take time on this day to learn their risk and make moves to help prevent type 2 diabetes.