Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes create national health crisis

Put down the greasy hamburger and put on your walking shoes. If I told you that losing weight by eating healthy and being more active could cut in half your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, would you listen? What if I told you that in America diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, blindness and non-traumatic amputation?

Unfortunately, far too many Americans are overweight and inactive, and the combination has created a national health crisis. Consider these alarming statistics reported by the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Approximately 86 million American adults have prediabetes – that’s one in every three. Nine out of 10 people with prediabetes are not aware they have the condition. (Prediabetes is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet elevated enough to diagnose diabetes.)
  • An estimated 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. (With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin – a hormone that regulates the movement of glucose (sugar) into your cells – or doesn’t use it properly. The result is a buildup of glucose in the bloodstream that leads to a number of serious health problems.)
  • Nearly 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. Of those, 8.1 million do not know it.
  • In 2011, diabetes was listed as the primary cause of kidney failure in 44 percent of new cases.
  • In 2010, about 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in adults aged 20 years or older with diagnosed diabetes.
  • In 2010, diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

Age, genetics and lifestyle are the best predictors of your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To determine your risk factors, take the American Diabetes Association Risk Test, which includes the following questions:

  1. How old are you?
    Less than 40 years (0 points)
    40-49 years (1 point)
    50-59 years (2 points)
    60 years or older (3 points)
  2. Are you a man or a woman?
    Man (1 point) Woman (0 points)
  3. If you are a woman, have you ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes?
    Yes (1 point) No (0 points)
  4. Do you have a mother, father, sister or brother with diabetes?
    Yes (1 point) No (0 points)
  5. Have you ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure?
    Yes (1 point) No (0 points)
  6. Are you physically active?
    Yes (0 points) No (1 point)
  7. What is your weight status?
    (Points vary from 0 to 3 depending on your level of obesity. Visit online test for more information.)

If your test score is 5 or higher, you are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Your risk is further increased if your ethnic background is African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander. If you find yourself in the high-risk category, I urge you to see your physician for further testing.

As we explore the prevalence and severity of type 2 diabetes, I am proud that Gastrointestinal Associates, along with Endocrinology Consultants of East Tennessee, is participating in a national clinical trial to explore the effectiveness and safety of an investigational endoscopic treatment for type 2 diabetes with obesity. If you missed my earlier blog post about the trial, you can see it here.