One out of every 10 women in the United States has diabetes. The likelihood of having diabetes increases in your forties, and then again past age 65. Even more disturbing is the incidence of diabetes in children which has increased dramatically over the past ten years.
The CDC claims, that if current trends continue, by 2050 one out of every three adults will have diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all cases of diabetes.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
In the most basic of terms, having diabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) is too high. Your body turns much of the food you eat into glucose which is then turned into energy. Like a running car, your body needs a constant, steady supply of fuel to function properly. Type 2 Diabetes occurs when your body does not have the ability to convert glucose into energy.
When your body cannot convert glucose to energy, the glucose stays in your blood. If not controlled, these high levels of glucose can lead to heart disease, blindness, stroke, kidney failure and nerve damage which can lead to amputations. In women, diabetes can cause problems during pregnancy and make it more likely that your baby will be born with birth defects.
You May Already Be at Risk for Diabetes
The following factors increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Here’s a look at risk factors you can control
- Overweight or obesity (particularly excess abdominal fat)
- High blood pressure — 140/90 mmHg or higher. Both numbers are important. If one or both numbers are usually high, you have high blood pressure.
- High cholesterol — total cholesterol over 240 mg/dL
- Inactivity — exercising less than 3 times a week
- Abnormal results in a prior diabetes test
- Having other health conditions that are linked to problems using insulin, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Having a history of heart disease or stroke
Then there are those risk factors you cannot control, but of which you should be aware.
- Age — being older than 45
- Family history — having a mother, father, brother, or sister with diabetes
- Race/ethnicity — your family background is African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic-American/Latino, Asian-American/Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian
- Having a baby with a birth weight more than 9 pounds
- Having diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
Preventing or Delaying Type 2 Diabetes
Research conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Program discovered that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in people at high risk of diabetes, including women with a history of gestational diabetes. People who participated in the study
- lowered their intake of fat and calories
- exercised about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week
These efforts resulted in a modest weight loss and prevented or delayed diabetes. If you are at risk of diabetes, making these same lifestyle changes to help prevent or delay diabetes is important.
So in short, the best way to control your risk for diabetes is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What can you change today to give yourself a healthier tomorrow?