Diabetes affects millions of people each year, but with testing and early intervention experts say it can be delayed or prevented in many cases.
Each year, the American Diabetes Association asks the public to “wake up” and take the Diabetes Risk Test on American Diabetes Association Alert Day ®, held the fourth Tuesday in March. The 26th Annual American Diabetes Association Alert Day occurs on March 25, 2014.
According to the American Diabetes Association, over 26 million people in the United States have diabetes. In addition, 79 million people have prediabetes, which means they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Without early diagnosis, the association states, disabling or deadly complications from diabetes can develop as much as a decade before diagnosis of the disease. Complications from diabetes include blindness, heart disease, stroke, limb amputation, kidney disease and death.
The 2013 Alert Day led to more than 39,000 people taking the risk test, and another 109,000 people took the test in March 2013—of the total 148,000, 37 percent discovered they were at high risk for type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Someone with type 2 diabetes will struggle to produce enough insulin for their body, which is necessary for the body to use glucose for energy. With diabetes, the glucose goes into the blood instead of the cells, leaving the cells without enough energy and those high blood glucose levels can cause damage to eyes, kidneys and the heart.
The risk test can be taken quickly online, on Facebook, or by calling 800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Walgreens pharmacies will also have a copy of the free test, which is simply a form to fill out to determine. The test is available online year round, not just on Alert Day and it is available in English and Spanish. The American Diabetes Association has this message about the test: “From March 25 through April 25, the Association will be encouraging the public to take the Diabetes Risk Test, as well as to share the test with everyone they care about - friends, family members and colleagues.” After answering the questions—about weight, age, family history and other potential risk factors for diabetes—on the test, preventive tips are provided those at high risk are encouraged to talk with their health care provider.
High-risk populations for diabetes include older people—one out of every four Americans age 65 and older has diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association—and some ethnic groups such as African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. People with a family history of diabetes are also at an increased risk for the disease.
The key to preventing diabetes is getting exercise and eating a healthy diet, as well as losing weight and quitting smoking. The American Diabetes Association had dietary and physical activity recommendations on their website, www.diabetes.org.
“Type 2 diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States, but it can be controlled with knowledge and healthy behavior,” states the American Diabetes Association. “With each person that takes the test, knows their risk and gets started living a healthy and active lifestyle, the Association is that much closer to stopping diabetes.”