Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes?

by Madeleine Kolb

Did you know that approximately 24 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, a chronic progressive disease? A disease which can double your risk of heart attack or stroke? A disease which—if not well managed over the years—can result in blindness, kidney failure, or the need for amputation of your feet or lower legs.  

And did you know that approximately ¼ of the people who have type 2 diabetes do not even know that they have it. The fabulous Patti LaBelle (shown here) was one. Her first symptom was collapsing on stage while she was performing. She was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

So you could say that Patti LaBelle and I have something in common. We both have type 2 diabetes, and we’re both managing it well. You could even say that we’re both lucky, because—as bad as type 2 diabetes is—it’s worse to have it and not know it  than to know that you have it. Because if you don’t know that you have the disease, you’re probably not doing what you need to do to manage it.

To raise awareness of type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) declared March 23 as ADA Alert Day. The purpose was to encourage people to take the Diabetes Risk Test shown below and join the movement to STOP DIABETES. The test estimates whether you are at risk, based upon your answers to questions about the risk factors, including age, family history, blood pressure, weight, and level of physical activity.  

I strongly urge you to take the test and to urge others, such as your parents or grandparents, to take it also. If the results indicate that you have some risk factors for pre-diabetes or diabetes, you’ll be directed to “Click here to find out what they are.”

After that, go back by clicking on “Your Risk Message.”

Next click on “Learn More” for a wealth of information about type 2 diabetes, the risk factors, diet, exercise, monitoring blood-glucose, and so on.

And remember the words of Patti LaBelle, who says “I have diabetes. It doesn’t have me.”

 

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angela Artemis March 29, 2010 at 9:29 am

Madeleine, I’m glad your managing your diabetes. It is a most debilitating disease and so out of control in our society. Great information. Thank you.

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2 Arvind Devalia March 29, 2010 at 10:38 am

This is a timely post Madeleine, as I was talking to a friend from the USA only last night and she mentioned how so many Americans were suffering from Diabetes and were not even aware of it.

So much of this “epidemic” is diet related and I really wonder how much attention is being given to raise awareness of people’s eating habits.

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3 Madeleine Kolb March 29, 2010 at 11:41 am

@ Angela, Thank you for your comment. Type 2 diabetes is growing out of control not only in the U.S. but also in some rapidly-developing countries. And what’s especially alarming is that it’s growing rapidly in people in their 20′s and 30′s, even their teens. If you take the short risk test above and click through to “Learn More,” you see a huge amount of information about the disease.

@Arvind, Much of it is related to a combination of poor diet which causes obesity and too little physical activity. (But there are exceptions. My main risk factor was “gestational diabetes” which occurs in about 4-6% of all pregnancies and of which the cause is unknown.)

The main thing though is not to blame anyone for being at risk or for having type 2 diabetes. The main thing is to make people aware of the risks so that they can prevent type 2 diabetes or manage if it if they already have it. And managing it, for the most part, means doing things you should do anyway, such as eating a healthful diet and getting plenty of physical activity.

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4 Adena Atkins October 13, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Hi Madeleine,

I took the test. Diabetes isn’t something I normally pay attention to, despite how common it is, because nobody in my family has it. But your post is compelling, so it felt good to check.

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5 Madeleine Kolb October 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Adena, It’s a quick and easy check. And going through the questions gives you a good sense of the risk factors and whether they are within your control (such as obesity) or not (such as age or ethnic background).

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6 Dan Vitale December 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Diabetes is a paper tiger, as is heart disease. My wife was diagnosed with Type II a couple years ago. Last year we switched to a “nutritarian” diet; fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, some huts and some seeds. That’s it; no meat, no dairy, no breads, no candies or snacks or soda, nuttin. Within weeks the diabetes was gone, along with the meds. We lost weight, joints loosened up, energy peaked, and so on. I really don’t think people are made to be so sick. And I don’t think the healthcare industry is supposed to be such a huge part of our lives. But I do believe the American diet is killing us

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7 Madeleine Kolb December 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Dan, You raise a number of interesting points. As you know, the conventional wisdom is that Type 2 diabetes can not be cured, but that it can be managed by taking prescribed medication, eating a healthful diet, exercising regularly, and getting regular check-ups.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, resulting from gestational diabetes when I was pregnant. I manage the disease without medication but do not consider that I am or ever will be cured. However, it may be a moot point because I manage diabetes (without meds) by eating a healthful diet and getting plenty of exercise. I should be doing those things anyway.

I completely agree that the typical diet in this country is killing people, although the general national reluctance to do even minimal amounts of exercise makes things worse.

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