CAMBRIDGE -- American Diabetes Alert Day, the fourth Tuesday of March, is a day designated by the American Diabetes Association as a time to take a look at your own risk for developing diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States, and a quarter of them -- seven million -- do not even know they have it. An additional 79 million, or one in three American adults, have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless we take the steps to Stop Diabetes.
Everyone should be aware of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. People who are overweight, under active (living a sedentary lifestyle) and over the age of 45 should consider themselves at risk for the disease. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and people who have a family history of the disease also are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, diagnosis often comes 7 to 10 years after the onset of the disease, after disabling and even deadly complications have had time to develop. Therefore, early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.
The American Diabetes Association has made a strong commitment to primary prevention of type 2 diabetes by increasing awareness of prediabetes and actively engaging individuals in preventative behaviors like weight loss, physical activity and healthful eating. Alert Day is a singular moment in time in which we can raise awareness and prompt action among the general public - particularly those at risk.
You can be part of the movement to Stop Diabetes and get your free Diabetes Risk Test (English or Spanish) by visiting the Association on Facebook, diabetes.org/risktest or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).
The Diabetes Risk Test asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risks for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Preventative tips are provided for everyone who takes the test, including encouraging those at high risk to talk with their health care provider.
You are also welcome to call Southeastern Med and speak to a Certified Diabetes Educator (740-435-2940) about your risks for developing the disease and how to prevent or delay the onset. Southeastern Med has begun its third season in providing the Group Lifestyle Balance Program.
For information, call 740-435-2940 or 740-435-2946.