Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

May 31, 2007
Internal Medicine World Report, April 2007, Volume 0, Issue 0

Did you know that 60 million Americans have diabetes or are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, but most of them don’t know about it? Find out if you are one of these 60 million people by checking to see if you have any of the risk factors listed below.

There are 2 types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is usually genetic and begins at an early age. Type 2 diabetes is not genetic. It has to do with the body’s inability to process glucose (sugar) appropriately.

Who Is at Risk? • Older people

• Overweight or obese people, or those who gain too much weight

• People who are not physically active, meaning that you don’t exercise at all or you exercise less than 3 times a week

• Certain ethnic groups. Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders than in whites

What Can Increase Your Risk for Diabetes?

• High blood pressure—what your doctor calls hypertension, which means your blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher

• Having a family member—especially a parent, brother, or sister—with diabetes

• Having diabetes during pregnancy (called “gestational diabetes”) or delivering a baby weighing more than 9 pounds

• Abnormal cholesterol levels—a low-density lipoprotein (“bad cholesterol”) level above 250 mg/dL or a high-density lipoprotein (“good cholesterol”) level below 35 mg/dL

• Having polycystic ovary syndrome in women

• Heart disease or stroke

• A blood test showing impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose

Should You Be Tested for Diabetes? • If you are 45 or older, especially if you are overweight, you should be tested

• If you are younger than 45, overweight, and have at least 1 risk factor for diabetes, get tested

What Can You Do to Lower Your Risk for Diabetes? • Lose weight if you’re overweight. Once you’ve reached a reasonable weight, try to maintain it

• Eat smaller serving sizes and cut down on the amount of fat in your food, for example:

„ Instead of eating sunflower seeds (which have 20 grams of fat), snack on pretzels (which have only 1 gram of fat)

„ Use low-fat margarine (2 grams of fat) instead of regular margarine (5 grams)

„ Put salsa (0 grams of fat) on your baked potato instead of butter or sour cream (20 grams)

„ Roast or grill chicken (9 grams of fat) instead of frying it (31 grams)

• Exercise regularly

„ Try to get in 30 minutes of physical activity, every day or on most days of the week

„ Start with brisk walking for a few minutes a day. Build up the time little by little until you’re walking about 30 minutes a day

„ Instead of watching TV, walk to the store, play softball with your children, or work in the garden

• If your doctor has told you to take medicines for high blood pressure or cholesterol, be sure to take them as directed