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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Preventing Diabetes

You may wonder what you can do to prevent diabetes. Both obesity and a family history of diabetes are risk factors for developing the disease.

If you're not already doing so, work with your health care provider to make sure your blood sugar level stays in the normal range -- below 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) in a fasting plasma glucose test. If your level is between 100 and 125 mg/dl, you've got a condition called "pre-diabetes" that indicates your body is starting to have trouble getting glucose out of the bloodstream, where it can be harmful. A blood glucose level of 126 mg/dl or above after an eight-hour fast indicates you have diabetes.

Keeping your weight under control is a big factor in reducing your risk of diabetes, but don't despair if you're overweight or obese. Small steps can make a big difference. Studies show that people can reduce their risk by losing just 5 to 7 percent of their body weight -- that's 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.

Keeping active is an important factor, too. Research indicates that being physically active for 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day for five days, for example), can reduce your risk.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that following the above recommendations of modest weight loss and keeping physically active reduces or delays the development of type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent. Among adults age 60 and older, the reduction was even greater -- 71 percent. That's significant.

The CDC estimates that diabetes currently affects more than 8 percent of the U.S. population -- about one-fourth don't even know they have it. But if current trends continue, as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050.

The concern is real. Uncontrolled diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It's the leading cause of kidney failure, new cases of blindness among adults under age 75, and non-injury leg and foot amputations among adults. The total costs of diabetes are estimated at $174 billion annually.

If you would like to attend a cooking school program for people with diabetes and their families call me or e-mail me.  I am teaching Dining with Diabetes in a 4 part series, February 1, 8, 15 & 22nd from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the MSU Extension office, 20 Care Dr., in Hillsdale. Registration is required.