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Type 2 diabetes and 2 steps for prevention

April 28, 2016

Do you often feel very thirsty or very hungry even though you are drinking and eating on a regular basis? Do you suffer from extreme fatigue or blurred vision?

If you answered yes to some of the above questions, you may be among an estimated 86 million adults ages 20 and older in the United States with undiagnosed prediabetes or diabetes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Are you at risk?

Some people may have no symptoms at all. Those that are at risk for prediabetes include people that are overweight, those with a family history of diabetes or a personal history of gestational diabetes, and those diagnosed with high blood pressure or high blood lipid levels. You can take a risk quiz now.

“It is estimated that nearly 1.5 million adults in Ohio have diabetes,” says Ann Marcum, RN, BSN a certified diabetes educator with Joslin Diabetes Centers at Kettering Health Network.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that as many as 30 percent of the people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes in less than five years. “Research shows the progression from prediabetes to Type 2 can potentially be stopped through lifestyle changes,” Marcum says.

Actions you can take

Marcum recommends the two following lifestyle changes:

1. Increase physical activity to 150 minute per week. Start with a 30-minute workout five times a week. Beginners can do a brisk walk and work their way up to aerobic exercise classes like Zumba or cycling.

2. Eat less saturated fat. Replace unhealthy foods with healthier options. Try low-fat yogurts and cheeses, almond milk, or lean proteins like chicken and turkey. Limit your intake of prepared foods such as pizza, dairy desserts, bacon and sausage.

In addition, those at risk may need to lose approximately five to seven percent of their body weight (approximately 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person).

Diet and exercise really work

The National Diabetes Prevention Program, led by the Centers for Disease Control, conducted a study involving people who were overweight and had prediabetes. Out of three approaches tested, the most positive outcome was the “lifestyle change group.” They had an average weight loss of 15 pounds in the first year, reducing their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent over three years.

Marcum and her colleagues teach these lifestyle changes in prediabetes classes at Kettering Health Network. One participant lost 62 pounds over two years, and stated that, “Diet and exercise really work.” Another class participant had incorporated meal plan changes with the addition of dance lessons. She said, “It has made a significant difference in my health and wellbeing.’’

Join a class

Learn how to make wise food choices, get exercise tips and medication advice, and reduce complications by joining a prediabetes class or talking to your family doctor.