Who doesn’t need a “wake-up” call now and again?
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the 86 million Americans – yes, that’s 86 million – who are pre-diabetic could use an annual wake-up call to assess their risks for developing this serious disease.
Diabetes Alert Day is an annual event sponsored by the ADA that takes place on the fourth Thursday of each March, and this year happens to mark its 75th anniversary.
Diabetes Alert Day kicks off a four-week diabetes awareness campaign in which members of the American public are encouraged to assess their risk of developing the disease by taking a free Diabetes Risk Test. Those tests can be accessed in English or Spanish by calling 1-800- DIABETES or by visiting a local Walgreens pharmacy, which is also supporting this initiative.
Each year, nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. are affected by diabetes, a chronic disease which can have detrimental impacts on the heart, eyes, nervous system, kidneys, and liver. Of those who are affected, more than a quarter of them don’t even realize it.
The ADA says that while the disease can be dangerous, knowing one’s risk for developing diabetes can lead to better, healthier outcomes once individuals begin making lifestyle changes.
This year’s campaign is being called “Take It. Share It. Step Out.” The organization hopes that response will be even greater this year than last, when almost 33,000 people took the Risk Test on Diabetes Alert Day and a total of more than 118,000 took it over the subsequent four-week diabetes awareness period. Thirty seven percent of those who took the test discovered that they were at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, thus buying valuable time to try to combat it.
You may wonder whether you’re at risk for developing the disease and whether or not you should take the test.
Risk factors are fairly broad, and include being overweight, being underactive (having a sedentary lifestyle) and being over the age of 45. Other risk factors include having a family history of the disease and/ or being of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent.
The good news is that studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by losing just seven percent of body weight through regular physical activity. That amount of physical activity is defined as being active for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
There are many ways to incorporate that level of fitness into your daily routine. Going for brisk daily walks is one way, and training for road walks/races is another. The Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership (NGHP) is sponsoring the Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic run/walk race on May 9, and training for that annual event could be fun way to get the body moving.
Also, maintaining a healthy diet filled with lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, low in added sugar and fats, can also keep many people from developing the disease.
Knowing one’s risks for diabetes is very important and the ADA is encouraging everyone to take Diabetes Risk Test, which can be done by going to their website, diabetes.org/takeitshareit.
Taking the test is simple, and involves providing answers to basic questions about one’s health including weight, age, family history, and other potential risk facts for diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Everyone who takes the test is provided with preventative tips, including encouraging those at high risk to visit their health care provider for additional testing and health care counseling.
We at the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership have a particular interest in Alert Day and the ADA’s efforts to create awareness about this disease.
As a high-risk region, Whitfield, Murray, and many other Northwest Georgia counties have a particularly high incidence of type 2 diabetes.
Fortunately, however, the NGHP will soon be part of a nation-wide research project on how modern advances in technology may help people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes to better manage their disease.
Stay tuned for details, and in the meanwhile, please join me in assessing your risk for this serious disease. If you have questions about your risk for diabetes, feel free to call us at the NGHP at 706-272-6663.
In Good Health,