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Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes in One Minute

American Diabetes Alert Day

Are you at risk for Type 2 Diabetes? It is important that you know, as uncontrolled disease can lead to many serious health issues. The American Diabetes Association offers a test, that takes only one minute to complete, for you to assess your current risk and help you identify areas in your life to change in order to reduce your risk.

Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting almost 26 million adults and children in the United States. There is also a condition known as “prediabetes” – once called borderline diabetes” in which blood glucose levels are elevated, but not quite high enough for an official diagnosis. This condition is dangerous as well – especially since 90% of those with prediabetes don’t even know they have it.

Complications from having high blood sugar include a greater risk of heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, and nervous system disease (neuropathy).

Knowledge is power. “The more people who take this first step in knowing their risk, the closer we will become to stopping this disease that has reached epidemic proportions,” states Lurelean B. Gaines, RN MSN, President of Health Care & Education at the American Diabetes Association. “The time to act is now. Taking one quick minute to learn your risk today could lead to a much healthier tomorrow.”

Take this Diabetes Risk Test and if your score is 5 or above, take the results to your physician to find out what your next steps are for preventing future health problems.

1. How old are You?
Older age increases the risk for diabetes. Of those with the condition, 26.9% are over the age of 65. For years, the reason was unknown, but Yale researchers in 2010 reported that 2 conditions associated with aging - reduced muscle mitochondrial activity plus increased muscle fat - increased the chances of insulin resistance.

If you are less than 40 years, score 0 points for this category. 40—49 years: add 1 point, 50—59 years add 2 points, and 60 years or older add 3 points.

2. Are you a man or woman?
Men have a slightly higher risk of diabetes. Obesity is one factor that increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, but researchers with Glasgow University found that men developed the disease at a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than women. This is because when men gain weight, they tend to gain in the abdominal region, around their internal organs.

Men score 1 point here.

3. If you are a woman, have you ever been diagnosed with gestational diabetes?
During pregnancy – usually around the 24th week – some women develop gestational diabetes, meaning the condition has only occurred since you conceived. It is estimated that gestational diabetes affects 18% of pregnancies. Gestational diabetes not only increases the mother’s chance of later developing Type 2 diabetes, but also increases the baby’s chances as well.

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If you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during a pregnancy (or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more), score 1 point.

4. Do you have a mother, father, sister, or brother with diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes has a stronger link to family history than Type 1 diabetes. However, even if you do have the condition running in your family, it is possible to prevent the disease by controlling environmental risk factors such as maintaining a healthy weight and getting daily exercise.

If an immediate family member has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, score 1 point.

5. Have you ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is an important risk factor for the development and worsening of many complications of diabetes, including diabetic eye disease and kidney disease. Additionally, having diabetes increases your chances of having high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Treating both conditions is very important for your overall health.

If you have high blood pressure, score 1 point.

6. Are you physically active?
Physical activity and daily exercise is crucial for everyone’s health, but even more so for those with diabetes. Regular workouts can help lower blood sugar levels, reduce body fat to improve insulin usage, and can keep the heart and cardiovascular system strong. Inactivity is also an independent risk factor for developing diabetes. Being sedentary increases your risk by 14%, per a study by endocrinologist Dr. Ronald Sigal at the University of Calgary.

If you meet the recommended physical activity levels by exercising at least three to four times per week for about 30 minutes each session, score 0 points. If you do not get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, score 1 point.

7. What is your weight status?
Obesity is probably one of the most significant risk factors in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Almost 90% of the people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Excess body fat interferes with the ability of insulin to transport blood sugar from the bloodstream into the cells where it can be used for fuel.

The printed diabetes risk assessment test found at www.diabetes.org gives a range of weights per height and offers a risk score associated with each. In general, if you are overweight, with a BMI from 25 to 29.9, you should add one point. If you have a BMI of 30 to 34.9, score 2 points. A BMI greater than 35 is considered significantly obese, and a score of 3 points is scored.

How to Reduce Your Risk
As you can see, there are certain risk factors for Type 2 diabetes that you cannot control. In addition to being male and having a family history, certain ethnic groups .including Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives are also at a greater risk.

But for the risk factors you can control, the American Diabetes Association offers the following additional advice:
Drop the Extra Pounds. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of body weight through regular physical and healthy eating.
• A healthy diet that helps to both reduce risk and to improve blood sugar in those with diabetes include foods high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Choose also lean meats, non-fat dairy products, and cut back on sweets and snacks.
Quit smoking (if you smoke). Heavy smokers almost double their risk of developing diabetes compared with non-smokers.
Lower alcohol intake. Excessive drinking can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas which can impair its ability to secrete insulin.

American Diabetes Assocation