According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans have a condition known as prediabetes. Could you be one of them? Chances are-YES! In fact, 90% of Americans with prediabetes are completely unaware of their condition. This largely stems from the fact that our health care system tends to focus on disease treatment rather than prevention. In other words, medical care doesn’t focus on preventing diabetes, but instead emphasizes medication and lifestyle change to treat diabetes once you are diagnosed.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that can’t be prevented through lifestyle changes. Most people with Type 1 diabetes are diagnosed as children or adolescents and are required to take insulin for life.
The second type of diabetes is Type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that 90-95% of Americans with diabetes have Type 2 Diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes may be required to take insulin or other medication to keep their blood sugars from getting too high. They also need to check their blood sugars every day and closely monitor their diet. Those with poorly controlled diabetes are at great risk of heart disease, kidney failure, and other complications such as loss of vision and nerve damage resulting in the need for foot, toe or leg amputation.
Now for the good news-Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented!
A large research study called the Diabetes Prevention Trial found that diet and lifestyle changes were more effective than medication in preventing Type 2 Diabetes in people who were at highest risk. Researchers found that those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes who lost only 7% of their weight (about 14 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds) were able to prevent having their prediabetes turn into Type 2 diabetes!
So-what does this mean for you?
First, find out right now how high of a risk you have for Type 2 Diabetes by taking this online quiz.
If you are at risk, discuss these results with your medical provider and ask to have blood tests done to help determine if you have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
If you do have prediabetes, start taking control of your health now! One option is to enroll in the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) offered in your local community. The DPP program is a lifestyle change program offered by many YMCA’s as well as other organizations across the country.
If you’re looking for more individualized approach, consider working Whole Food Is Medicine for a personalized prevention plan, or find another registered dietitian nutritionist who focuses on prediabetes.
Whatever your decision, this is truly a case of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure!