I am sure that most of you know the following diabetes facts:
- It is estimated that 29.1 million Americans (about 1 in 11, or 9.3 percent) have diabetes. Of these 29.1 million, 8.1 million people are undiagnosed.
- 86 million Americans 20 years and older (about 1 in 3) have prediabetes. Of these 86 million, 9 in 10 people don’t know they have prediabetes.
- The incidence of type 2 diabetes in youth is increasing.
- Approximately 25 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have diabetes.
- Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease) and the risk of kidney and eye disease.
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death. The risk of death in an adult with diabetes is 50 percent higher than an adult without diabetes
- American Indians/Alaskan Natives, non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and Asian Americans have a higher diabetes risk compared to non-Hispanic whites.
Diabetes Alert! Day® is Tuesday, March 28. This is the day to raise awareness about the prevalence of type 2 diabetes. The ADA has a great Diabetes Risk Test for American adults which can be taken online or as a simple paper handout. It is very brief and includes key questions to help a person find out if he or she is at risk for type 2 diabetes.
With modest changes, a person can help delay or reduce the risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and help manage it.
As diabetes educators, we know the importance of an individual finding out if they have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. We know that lifestyle changes, though challenging, can improve the life of a person with diabetes and can help to delay or reduce the risk of progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. I find that many people think they need to lose huge amounts of weight and do lots of strenuous exercise to improve their situation. We know that this is not true. With modest changes, a person can help delay or reduce the risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and help manage it. However, we can’t help if a person isn’t aware of their risk!
For Diabetes Alert! Day®
, I am going to keep it simple. I am printing out copies of the ADA Risk Assessment in color. On the back, I am including information about steps an individual can do to decrease their risk, as well as resources that they can access. I am going to distribute the sheet to our staff, in waiting rooms, and to healthcare students. This simple process can serve several purposes. Most importantly, it can help a person determine if they are at risk of type 2 diabetes. Secondly, it will provide specific information to help a person lower their risk. Finally, it will highlight resources including our hospital’s diabetes self-management education and support services.
I hope each of you can do something, perhaps as simple as what I am going to do, to bring awareness about the risk of type 2 diabetes on Tuesday, March 28th, Diabetes Alert! Day®
About the Author
Karen Kemmis is a physical therapist and certified diabetes educator, and also holds certifications in Pilates for rehabilitation and exercise for aging adults. She is based out of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY and splits her time between a Joslin Diabetes Center affiliate, an outpatient rehabilitation department, and a PT program where she is an adjunct professor.