What you need to do today to prevent diabetes

When asked for my opinion about new operations or medical procedures, people are looking for quick fixes. With today's advances in medicine, a person can go from obese to skinny with a gastric bypass operation or have their vision restored to perfect with LASIK procedures that can be done in 10 minutes.  Everyone wants the quick fix, whether it be a tummy tuck or Botox that will make them look years younger.  What persons asking for my opinion don't want to hear is that there really is no quick fix for the diabetes epidemic that is coming.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 57 million Americans with prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.  Even worse, a recent study in Texas reported that number of persons suffering from diabetes is expected to quadruple by 2040.

Why should this be a concern for you and your family?  Because diabetes (with the exception of Type 1 diabetes) is completely preventable.  There is a high correlation between obesity and diabetes and therein lies the problem. Americans who are obese are nearly three times as likely as those who are not obese to be diagnosed with diabetes. As cases of obesity increase, similarly the rate of persons diagnosed with diabetes rises.

During the past twenty years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30.  The rate of obesity is higher than 30% in many states and the rate is 24.2% in New York.

The obesity rate is growing and many are now obese by the time they reach adulthood, which puts a large segment of the population at risk for diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of new cases of diabetes diagnosed today, is now also being diagnosed in children.  At the current rate of increase, one in four Americans will have diabetes by 2040, according to the recent Texas study of diabetes.

What does this mean for you?  Number one: If you are at risk for diabetes due to being overweight or your family history, get tested!  There are three tests that your doctor can determine if you have prediabetes: A1C, fasting plasma glucose test (FPG) or the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).  If you have prediabetes, the time to take action to prevent diabetes is now by adjusting your eating habits, losing weight and exercise more.

Number two: Discuss with your doctor any symptoms that may suggest the onset of diabetes, such as frequent urination, excessive hunger, and numbness and lack of sensation in the legs or arms.  Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms are harmless.

Number three: Find out what your body mass index is.  If your body mass index is thirty or higher, you are obese!  Speak with a nutritionist about changing your eating habits.  Get your body mass index under thirty and your risk of diabetes will drop.

Diabetes is an epidemic that will get worse.  Take control of diabetes by screening, testing and watching what you eat.  It may mean your life.