November focuses on diabetes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 31, 2009

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and one local doctor’s office is doing its part to make residents aware of the risks of diabetes.

SARHA has partnered with the National Diabetes Education Program for National Diabetes Awareness Month.

“This is important news for people affected by diabetes,” said Christy Hill, SARHA’s new health educator.

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“Diabetes is a serious disease. Managing the disease is not easy but the benefits are worth the effort. People need to work to keep their blood glucose as close to normal as is safe for them, what is called their target range, to reduce their chance of serious health problems.”

While, everyone’s target range is different, many should aim for less than 7.

Diabetes affects many Americans.

In fact, nearly 24 million people have diabetes, and 5.7 million of these people do not know they have the disease.

According to the NDEP, the number of people diagnosed is growing.

The number has risen from 1.5 million people in 1958 to 17.9 million people in 2007.

NDEP calls this an “increase of epidemic proportions.”

The majority of the cases are type 2 diabetes, which is the non-insulin-dependent type, with 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases being type 2.

Five to 10 percent of the cases are type 1, which is the insulin-dependent type, and gestational diabetes affects about 200,000 pregnancies each year.

Who is at risk for diabetes?

According to NDEP, many factors increase a person’s risk for diabetes, including being 45 years of age or old, current weight, immediate family member with diabetes, ethnic background such as African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander.

Other risk factors include having gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and physically active less than three times per week.

For those at risk, simple steps can be taken to help prevent diabetes.

According to NDEP, people at high risk can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their weight, if being overweight is an issue.

Other tips include, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week and changing diet to eat a variety of foods that are low in fat and reduce caloric intake daily.