Can Diabetes Be Prevented

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: November 26, 2013

It’s difficult to open a newspaper or listen to the news without hearing something about how prevalent diabetes is—among adults and children alike. The National Diabetes Education Program tells us that 86 million Americans over the age of 20 have prediabetes—that’s nearly a quarter of the U.S. population.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic, lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness in adults. It is a major cause of heart disease and stroke, and the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

While there are some risk factors out of our control—ethnicity or having a family history of diabetes—the good news is that you can make lifestyle changes to address the risk factors you can control—obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, lack of physical activity. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Know your risk factors. The more you know, the better the discussion you can have with your doctor.According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the main risk factors are:
    • Being overweight or obese
    • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
    • Being African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino heritage
    • Having a prior history of gestational diabetes or birth of at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds
    • Having high blood pressure measuring 140/90 or higher
    • Having abnormal cholesterol with HDL (“good”) cholesterol of 35 or lower, or triglyceride level of 250 or higher
    • Being physically inactive—exercising fewer than three times a week
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re not at an ideal weight, one of the best things you can do to lower your risk of diabetes is lose weight. Research has shown that you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by 58% by losing 5% to 7% of your body’s weight and increasing your physical activity.As a leading risk factor, being overweight can keep your body from making and using insulin properly, and can also cause high blood pressure. It may help you to know what weight loss tactics work for other people. According to the American Diabetes Association, people who lose weight and keep it off:
    • Cut back on calories and fat
    • Do physical activity most days of the week
    • Eat breakfast every day
    • Keep a record of their weight, what they eat and drink, and their physical activity

    As always, it’s best to consult with your physician before undergoing any weight loss plan.

  3. Stay “heart healthy”—keep an eye on your blood pressure. Vascular diseases are the principal causes of death and disability in people with diabetes. Two in three people with diabetes report having high blood pressure, and take medication to lower it. When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder, putting you at risk for heart disease, stroke and other conditions or illness. The same lifestyle changes you make to lower your risk of diabetes will also help you control your blood pressure, such as losing weight and exercising a few days a week or more. Also:
    • Choose food with less than 400 mg of sodium per serving
    • Limit alcohol consumption
    • Quit smoking
    • Talk to your health care provider

Diabetes Definitions

  • Prediabetes: blood glucose or A1c levels higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
  • Type 1 diabetes: high blood glucose levels caused by total lack of insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes: high blood glucose levels caused by either a lack of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin effectively.
  • Gestational diabetes: develops only during pregnancy and disappears upon delivery; increases risk that mother will develop diabetes later.
  • Insulin: a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy.

For more information on programs and services designed to help your company promote health and wellness, please contact us.

Disclaimer: The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of a physician. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to a physician.

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