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Topic of the Month: Diabetes

Photo: A man and woman riding bicycles.

You have the power to prevent and control diabetes. If you already have diabetes, work to lower your risk of serious complications. If you don't have the disease, learn if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

America is facing an epidemic of diabetes, a serious disease that damages the body and shortens lives. In the next four decades, the number of U.S. adults with diabetes is estimated to double or triple, according to CDC scientists. That means anywhere from 20 to 33 percent of adults could have the disease. About 1 in 10 American adults have diabetes now.

If you already have diabetes, managing the disease can lower your risk of complications such as kidney failure, heart disease and stroke, blindness, and amputations of legs and feet. Here are some important steps to take to control diabetes:

  • Talk to your health care provider about how to manage your blood glucose (A1C), blood pressure, and cholesterol.
  • Get a flu vaccine. For those with diabetes, it is important to ask for the "shot" version. Talk to your health care provider about a pneumonia (pneumococcal) shot. People with diabetes are more likely to die from pneumonia or influenza than people who do not have diabetes.
  • Reach or stay at a healthy weight.
  • Make sure you're physically active. Plan for 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of moderate physical activity, such as walking quickly or gardening, or 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of vigorous physical activity, such as jogging or jumping rope. Add muscle strengthening activities on 2 or more days each week. Physical activity can help you control your weight, blood glucose, and blood pressure, as well as raise your "good" cholesterol and lower your "bad" cholesterol.


Obesity is a Major Risk Factor

Being overweight or obese raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To see whether you are at a healthy weight, check your body mass index (BMI) at this CDC calculator. People with a body mass index of 25-29.9 are considered overweight, and people with a BMI of 30 or above are classified as obese.

Other risk factors for type 2 diabetes include the following:

  • Age 45 or older
  • Developed diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes)
  • Have a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • Are not physically active
  • Belong to certain racial or ethnic groups. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at high risk for type 2 diabetes.

Know Your Score

Ways You Can Help Prevent Diabetes

Research trials have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. People at high risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight, or about 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. You can do that by eating healthier and being physically active for 30 minutes, five days a week.

Having a condition called prediabetes means you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the next three to six years. People with prediabetes have blood glucose (sugar) levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program

CDC and its partners are working to prevent type 2 diabetes and to reduce its complications. CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program supports establishing a network of lifestyle intervention programs for overweight or obese people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

These interventions focus on healthy eating, coping skills and group support to help participants lose 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight and get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity.  The program is working with 28 YMCA-based sites across the United States offering group lifestyle interventions, with plans to expand to additional sites and providers.

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