Diabetes doesn’t discriminate. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a new public education campaign targeting the 86 million American adults with what’s known as prediabetes.
More than one in three adults in the United States has prediabetes, a serious health condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke. If you have prediabetes, your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with full-blown diabetes.
“Awareness is crucial in the effort to stop type 2 diabetes,” said David Marrero, director of the Diabetes Translation Research Center at Indiana University School of Medicine, when the campaign kicked off.
To learn your risk, take this short online test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org.
“This is a very simple and quick tool that will allow people to see if they are at risk for prediabetes or diabetes,” said Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, M.D., an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. “If they are at higher risk, this will hopefully prompt them to seek medical attention sooner.”
Most people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. Left untreated, up to 30 percent of those with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years, according to the CDC. “One of the problems with prediabetes and diabetes is that people sometimes don’t feel sick until it’s too late,” Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis said.
Simple lifestyle changes—diet and exercise—can prevent diabetes.
“Losing 5 percent to 7 percent of body weight can significantly reduce your risk, as well as making lifestyle changes, which include portion control, reducing foods with refined sugars and exercising regularly,” Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis said. “Exercising just 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can also help reduce this risk.”
The CDC, the American Diabetes Association and the American Medical Association (AMA) joined forces to launch the campaign because prediabetes is considered one of the biggest public health crises in this country.
Knowing you have prediabetes is just the first step in preventing type 2 diabetes, AMA President-Elect Andrew Gurman, M.D., said in a CDC news release. “As soon as someone discovers they may be at risk of prediabetes, they should talk with their physician about further testing to confirm their diagnosis and discuss the necessary lifestyle changes needed to help prevent type 2 diabetes,” he said.
About 29 million people in the U.S.—more than 9 percent of the population—have diabetes, mostly type 2, according to the CDC, placing the disease at epidemic levels. And African Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and we are at increased risk of developing complications of the disease, including amputations, heart disease and kidney failure.