Although National Diabetes Month is almost over, specialists are still weighing in with their advice on the subject of diabetes, but also warning of the risks of the condition known as pre-diabetes. While it is not to be confused with actually having diabetes, it is a condition that affects about 86 million people in the United States, with most being unaware that they have it.
In a feature article for the Florida Times-Union, Neptune Beach, Florida, doctor Matthew Modansky wrote that about 90 percent of people with pre-diabetes do not know that they suffer from the condition. He added that the statistic is “alarming,” as 15 to 30 percent of pre-diabetes sufferers will likely have type 2 diabetes within five years if the right intervention tools aren’t used. But before thinking of interventions or lifestyle changes, Modansky said that people should be aware of the classical signs of diabetes, which may include but are not limited to unusual hunger pangs, increased thirst, and frequent urination.
Modansky’s National Diabetes Month piece also listed several risk factors, including a history of being overweight, a family history of diabetes, cigarette smoking, and a poor diet, among those that make it necessary for people to get blood sugar tests for diabetes, which can be done at most doctor’s offices.
Given the above symptoms and risk factors, Modansky listed several tools that pre-diabetics can utilize to nip things in the bud and prevent diabetes before it happens. These include losing weight and getting exercise, quitting smoking, and eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet with complex carbohydrates. He also stressed the importance of being informed, meaning that pre-diabetics should be aware of their body mass index, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and blood pressure figures, as people with pre-diabetes typically have higher levels of those metrics than the average person.
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In another National Diabetes Month commentary, Intermountain Healthcare doctors Elizabeth Joy and Kim Brunisholz wrote that diabetes is the most expensive health condition in the U.S., ranking ahead of heart disease with over $100 billion spent each year in direct healthcare costs. Writing for the Salt Lake Tribune, Joy and Brunisholz stressed the importance of addressing the “explosion of people” suffering from diabetes and pre-diabetes. Like Modansky, the Intermountain Healthcare doctors noted that nine out of 10 people with pre-diabetes aren’t aware they have the condition.
Likewise, the Salt Lake Tribune piece emphasized lifestyle changes as being among the key tools that people can use to prevent their pre-diabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes. But the report went into deeper specifics, suggesting that a 200-pound person who loses about 10 pounds (5 percent of body weight) has an 85 percent reduced chance of developing type 2 diabetes, with a recent national study showing that people who lost 7 percent of their weight were 58 percent less likely to develop the condition when compared to people in a control group.
In addition to encouraging lifestyle changes and weight loss as tools for preventing diabetes, Joy and Brunisholz added in their National Diabetes Month article that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will include the U.S. government’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) as a Medicare insurance benefit starting next year. The DPP is overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and consists of a 16-week training class and six monthly follow-up sessions, with the curriculum including topics on how to shop for and cook healthy meals, get enough exercise, and overcome the challenges that come with switching to a healthier lifestyle.
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