Our lives are like a book. Each person’s book is full of memories of their life events. Will diabetes be a chapter in your book of life experiences? Two out of every 5 Americans are expected to develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. Diabetes 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. More than 1 in 3 adults in the United States have pre-diabetes, where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke. You are at increased risk for developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes if you:
Are 45 years of age or older.
Have a parent with diabetes.
Have a sister or brother with diabetes.
Have a family background that is African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American-Indian, Asian-American, or Pacific-Islander.
Had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes), or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more.
Are physically active less than three times a week.
Some of these risk factors, such as your age and ethnicity, are out of your control. However, risk factors such as being overweight or physically inactive are modifiable. What can you do to reduce your risk? 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 pre-diabetes. 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. You can change your story. Start today!