4 November 2014 Are You At Risk for Diabetes?

November is “National Diabetes Month" – so I am writing an official plea to you, my dear reader, to get tested for diabetes. It is better to know as early as possible if you have diabetes so that you can do something about it BEFORE you develop organ damage or complications. Not testing doesn’t mean you don’t have diabetes – it just means you don’t know.

Most adults who get diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes – the type that is associated with aging, genetics, diet, and lifestyle. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, there are a number of factors that increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes. However, some factors are more strongly associated with developing diabetes than others – and those are shown in bold type below. Age and/or obesity are the two strongest risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.

  • Age: 45 years or older (risk even higher for those > 65 years old)
  • Overweight or obese: using BMI categories
  • Family history: having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes (and/or your baby’s birth weight was over 9 lbs)
  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)
  • Sedentary (i.e. not getting enough activity)
  • Blood cholesterol, LDL, and/or triglycerides too high, and/or HDL too low
  • Ethnicity: see list below
  • PCOS
  • Acanthosis nigricans (dark velvet rash on neck and armpits)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Sleep apnea (or untreated sleep problems)

According to the CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Report 2014, 29.1 million people in the U.S. have diabetes – that is 9.3% of the population. If you look at all adults aged 20 years or older, 12.3% have diabetes.

Although adults from all ethnicities can develop diabetes, some ethnicities have a greater diabetes burden than others (for multiple reasons):
24.1% American Indians from southern Arizona
14.8% Puerto Ricans
13.9% Mexican Americans
13.2% Non-Hispanic blacks
13.0% Asian Indians
11.3% Filipinos

Compare those figures to the overall averages by ethnic groups:
15.9% American Indians/Alaska Natives
13.2% Non-Hispanic blacks
12.8% Hispanics/Latinos
9% Asian Americans
7.6% Non-Hispanic whites

Smart Ideas

Get tested for diabetes if you are overweight and sedentary at ANY AGE.
If you are aged 45 years or older, get tested.
If you suspect you have diabetes, get tested.
If your doctor recommends that you get tested, get tested.
If you already have prediabetes, get tested yearly.

To learn more about how diabetes is diagnosed, including prediabetes, please visit the American Diabetes Association.

If you are curious about how your diet might change with a new diabetes diagnosis, please read my article, Diabetes Basics.

“Suspecting and knowing are not the same.”
- Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Diabetes/Preventing Diabetes

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