As Americans have become increasingly overweight and obese, there has been an explosion in the cases of type 2 diabetes. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is largely tied to lifestyle risk factors.
In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 29.1 million people – 9.3% of the U.S. population – had diabetes, a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar, or glucose.
Type 2 was once most common in adults – typically older adults – but the Mayo Clinic reports that it has increasingly begun to affect large numbers of children. The disease is managed through insulin drugs, as well as by eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.
In addition to the growing number of diabetes cases, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates another 86 million American adults probably have prediabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are higher than normal. More disturbing, the group says about 8 million Americans may have the disease and not know it.
How do you know if you or your child is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Being obese and living a sedentary lifestyle are 2 significant risk factors.
The ADA has developed a Diabetes Risk Test, an online app that allows users to measure their risks of developing the disease. The quiz asks users to answer short questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risk factors for diabetes.
The results are compiled into a numerical score that indicate either a low or high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If the results suggest a high risk, the ADA urges you to speak with a health care provider to learn more about ways to either reduce the risk or delay the onset of the disease.
“Awareness is crucial in the effort to stop Diabetes,” said David Marrero, an executive at ADA. “We’re asking the public to take It. Share it. Step out. Take one minute to take the risk test today, share it with your loved ones and get started getting active by getting involved in your local Step Out event. The Diabetes Risk Test can be the first step in knowing your risk and helping us get closer to our vision of a life free of diabetes and all of its burdens.”
Primary risk factors
Doctors say you are most at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you are overweight, sedentary, over the age of 45 and have a family history of diabetes. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at an increased risk, as are women who have had gestational diabetes or had babies weighing more than nine pounds at birth.
How do you know if you have the disease? Symptoms can include blurred vision, excessive thirst and frequent urination. The problem is, these symptoms may not show up at the onset of the disease.
ADA is trying to close what it sees as a diagnosis gap, getting treatment to patients earlier in the disease and heading off dangerous complicaitons, like heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and even death.
The group cites studies showing type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing just 7% of body weight, regular physical activity and healthy eating.