Diabetes - Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

"Preventing Type 2 Diabetes"

Sam Kitching: I certainly don't want diabetes. That's one of the greatest fears -- it caused my mother to lose her eyesight prematurely, sores would not heal, the medication was terribly expensive and awfully inconvenient.

Carmencita Domingo: My biggest fear is not to get what my aunts and aunties had, both on my father and my mother's side and that is diabetes.

Frenchy Risco: Without question, diabetes is a silent killer. It is devastating in the Afro-American community and most people of color. Absolutely devastating.

Announcer: These people are talking about diabetes, a serious disease affecting over 18 million people in the United States.

Dr. James Gavin: The groups that are at risk for diabetes and therefore who are the targets for this program include African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, groups like Latinos and older citizens -- people over the age of 60.

Announcer: Millions of people are at risk for diabetes. Although there is no cure for Type II diabetes, those at risk can take steps to prevent the disease.

Dr. James Gavin: Once a person is diagnosed with Type II diabetes, there is no known cure. There are very effective treatments and we've done very well in treating and controlling this disease, but the complications are serious, they are devastating, they are expensive and that's why it is so important that we prevent this disease in the first place.

Announcer: Risk factors for Type II diabetes include being over 45 years of age, being overweight, having high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol, having a family history of the disease. Recent research has shown that you can sharply lower your chance of getting Type II diabetes. According to a new campaign for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called Small Steps, Big Rewards, taking small steps can help.

Dr. James Gavin: We now have the evidence from important clinical trials, major studies, to show that even if you are overweight, at very high risk and the age 45 and over age group, you can, by taking small steps -- physical activity, changing your eating patterns and your eating behavior, you can actually prevent the development of Type II diabetes.

Announcer: Sam Kitching is taking that advice. Not only has he started exercising -- bike riding with his wife and working out at the local gym to lose weight -- but he has also changed his diet.

Sam Kitching: We're not eating some of the things that we actually grew up eating and had to change the patterns of the way we did it. We no longer keep the big red bucket of ice cream in the freezer, no longer keep the chips and the cookies for the grandkids in the closet.

Announcer: Frenchy Risco also recognizes the importance of changing his diet.

Frenchy Risco: You will have high blood pressure and diabetes before you know it and that's because for years we've had improper diets, improper ways that we cook our food and when it's generation after generation and you don't know any better, the end result is that you don't change and it's imperative that everybody change their diet.

Announcer: Frenchy was so determined to change his eating habits that he enrolled in classes to learn how to cook healthier food.

Frenchy Risco: At this class, they taught us how to cook it -- not only did they cook it for you, so that you could see what it should look like and what it should taste like, then they teach you how to do it yourself. You'd be surprised at what some of this food tastes like -- so good!

Announcer: Dr. Gavin, who heads up the National Diabetes Education Program, emphasizes that it's the small steps that can make the difference.

Dr. James Gavin: In this campaign we are really trying to get people to understand that it is not necessary to run a marathon, it is not necessary to go to the gym every day. Small steps are required. 150 minutes of walking a week, 30 minutes a day for five days a week. It is not necessary to go on a starvation diet. It is not necessary to lose 100 pounds. Five to seven percent of your starting body weight. For a 200 pound person -- 15 pounds over a two-year period. Small steps.

Announcer: Carmencita Domingo is doing just that -- she's taking small steps with older adults in her community by getting them to exercise.

Carmencita Domingo: I will tell my friends and family how good it is to have a good health because you are not sick, you are not miserable, and there are ways to follow it, to prevent it and that is by the combination of good, healthy eating, portion control and exercise.

Dr. James Gavin: When you realize that the small investment of increasing your activity by doing something as simple as walking could cut your risk for heart attacks, blindness, strokes, kidney failure, amputations, that's an investment worth making. Small step, a huge reward.

Diabetes Defined

If you have diabetes, your body cannot make or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps control the sugar, or glucose, in your blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for your body.

When you have diabetes, the levels of blood glucose are too high. High blood glucose can cause symptoms such as blurred vision, frequent urination, increased thirst, unintended weight loss, slow healing sores, and feelings of hunger and tiredness. However, some people with diabetes do not have symptoms.

Diabetes is a serious disease. Over time, diabetes that is not well controlled causes serious damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart.

About 18.2 million Americans, or 6.2 percent of the population, have diabetes. Thirteen million people have diagnosed diabetes, while an estimated 5.2 million people are undiagnosed. More than 8 million people 60 years or older have diabetes. This figure represents 18.3 percent of that age group.

About 5 to 10 percent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children, teenagers, or adults under age 30. In people with type 1 diabetes, the body can no longer produce insulin.

About 90 percent of people in the United States with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It is most common in adults over age 40, and the risk of getting type 2 diabetes increases with age. With this form of diabetes, the body does not always produce enough insulin or does not use insulin efficiently. Being overweight and inactive increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is also more common in people with a family history of diabetes and in African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and Asian and Pacific Islanders.

Some women develop gestational diabetes during the late stages of pregnancy. Although this form of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, a woman who has had it is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

People with diabetes must take responsibility for their day-to-day care. Much of the daily care involves keeping blood glucose levels from going too high or too low. About two-thirds of people with diabetes die of heart disease, so it is also important to control blood pressure and cholesterol. This may require taking medications prescribed by a doctor.

When blood glucose levels drop too low, a condition known as hypoglycemia, a person can become nervous, shaky, and confused. Judgment can be impaired. If blood glucose falls too low, a person can faint.

A person can also become ill if blood glucose levels rise too high, a condition known as hyperglycemia. Diabetics may go into a coma if their blood sugar levels rise too high.

Strict control of blood glucose as well as blood pressure and cholesterol is the best defense against the serious complications of diabetes. People who take steps to control their diabetes can make a big difference in their health. If you have diabetes, stick to a diet plan, monitor your blood sugar, exercise regularly, take prescribed medication, and make healthy lifestyle choices.

The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

Copyright Information: Public domain information with acknowledgement given to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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