Tuesday, March 28, is the American Diabetes Association’s Alert Day, which is designed to sound the alarm about the prevalence of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes in American adults by asking people to take the ADA’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test.
At Williamson Medical Center, we take the health of this community very seriously and work year-round to educate patients and families about the risks of developing diabetes.
“We are part of a national Diabetes Prevention Program here at Williamson, where we work with people from the community and help them make their way into a much healthier lifestyle by educating them about why it is important to make these changes and helping them establish better eating and exercise habits until they become lifestyle changes,” said Sarah Neil Pilkinton, RD, Diabetes Prevention Program Coordinator.
In addition to the 29 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes, another 86 million Americans have prediabetes. According to the ADA, 90 percent of people with prediabetes don’t even know they have it.
Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. It is important to know if you are at risk for diabetes. Having a mother, father, brother, or sister with Type 2 diabetes puts one at greater risk for developing the disease. Talk with your family about your family’s health history. Knowing about your family’s past health can protect your family’s future health. A great tool to use for this family discussion is the Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait”.
Pilkinton says it is important to share your family health history with your healthcare provider.
“If you are at risk for Type 2 diabetes, you may be able to prevent or delay this disease by making positive, healthy lifestyle changes,” she said. “If you are overweight, losing just five to seven percent of your body weight can reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. For example, if a 200-pound person loses just 5 pounds he/she can reduce his/her risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. Every pound you lose can improve your health.”
You can’t change your genes, but you can change risky behaviors like tobacco use, lack of physical activity and poor eating habits that can add to your risk of developing diabetes.
Here are some tips Pilkinton recommends for making positive changes for better health:
- Make healthy food choices. Eat a variety of foods from each food group. Choose lean meats and dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Limit foods with added sugar, salt, and fat. Making healthy food choices for yourself will be healthy for your family as well.
- Choose water to drink instead of sugary drinks that can cause weight gain and increase your risk for diabetes.
- Eat smaller portions of food. Doing so reduces the number of calories you eat per day.
- Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day to help you lose and maintain weight. If you have not been active for a while, talk to your doctor and start slowly to build up to your fitness goal. Get your whole family to be active with you!
- Join a Diabetes Prevention Program. This year-long lifestyle change program will help you lose weight, learn how to become more physically active, and guide you towards making healthy food choices.
By following these practical tips to prevent Type 2 diabetes, you are also helping to lower your risk for other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and nerve damage.
For more information on the Diabetes Prevention Program at Williamson Medical Center, please contact us at 615-435-5580 or email@example.com.