Splash photo

Diabetes – Learn the Facts!


Did you know that 1 in 11 Americans today has diabetes? Despite its prevalence, diabetes is an invisible disease. It affects men and women, the young and old, and people of all races, shapes and sizes. Often there are no outward signs from the 29 million Americans who fight this chronic illness every day. That’s why there is a critical need to foster awareness and education while breaking down stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings about this growing public health crisis that affects so many of us. This is also the reason the American Diabetes Association marks each November as American Diabetes Month: to bring extra attention to the disease and the tens of millions of people affected by it.


Diabetes is more than the medications and devices used to manage it. For many, diabetes dictates how they organize their day, what they eat at every meal, how they choose to be physically active and how they spend their money. People with diabetes can have health care costs that are 2.3 times higher than someone without diabetes, as type 1 and type 2 require very specific forms of treatment.


Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and there is no known way to prevent it. Approximately 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1, which means their body does not produce any insulin. Insulin is critical in order for the body to transport glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells for energy. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to live.


Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of cases in the United States, and is caused when the body does not produce or use insulin properly. Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes and having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes). Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose (sugar) with healthy eating and being active; other may require oral medications or insulin, especially as the disease progresses. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as older adults.


Some women develop gestational diabetes, high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy, which requires treatment to protect the health of the mother and the baby. Gestational diabetes affects approximately 9.2 percent of pregnant women.


It’s important to know the symptoms of diabetes, which can include:


  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision

The good news is that people who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk by more than half if they make healthy changes such as:


  • Getting regular physical activity. Aim for 30 minutes of activity a day.
  • Losing excess body weight. A modest weight loss of 5-10 pounds can help your body’s insulin work more effectively.
  • Eating and drinking less refined sugars such as: cookies, candy, juice drinks, and soda. Although eating sugar does not cause diabetes, high sugar foods typically have little nutritional value.
  • Eating more fiber by including more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
  • Getting a fasting blood sugar test per your health care provider’s recommendation.

Know your risk. Take this quick test online, or download the paper version, to assess your risk for type 2 diabetes. Once you have completed the test, you can print your results and share them with your healthcare provider at your next appointment.