In 2009, when People Centre’D on Diabetes published our first World Diabetes Day article, we talked about the one in 12 people in our community living with diabetes. Our mission was — and is — to raise diabetes awareness and promote wellness in the Centre Region. Our motto has always been “Diabetes: Take It On!” which encourages people to do that both at a personal level and at the community level, because diabetes affects all of us. Whether or not we have it ourselves, we all now live with, love, work with or know someone who does have diabetes.
Since we published that first article, the number of people living with diabetes in this country has increased to almost one in 10. If trends continue, diabetes could affect up to onethird of the U.S. population by 2050, according to a report from experts at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Reading this almost makes this seem inevitable, but I’m not convinced it is and neither are the members of People Centre’D on Diabetes, who continue to work to take on diabetes in our community.
Most people who live with diabetes have type-2 diabetes, and one in four of them don’t know they have the disease. Many people diagnosed with type-2 diabetes have had the disease for 10 years on average before they find out and serious, irreversible damage that is preventable can often develop in the body during this time.
More than one in three adults today have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood sugars are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes; with pre-diabetes, there is a 50 percent risk of progressing to type-2 diabetes in 10 years. And nine in 10 people with pre-diabetes don’t know they have it — so almost no one with pre-diabetes knows about their condition.
The key to preventing the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes and to preventing the serious problems that can come from living with diabetes is to know your numbers. You can’t take on something you don’t know you have, so the first step is finding out where you stand. The American Diabetes Association recommends that all people older than 45 get screened for diabetes with a blood sugar test. It also recommends earlier screening for those at higher risk for diabetes including people with close family members with diabetes, people with less active lifestyles, women who have had a babies weighing more nine pounds, people who are overweight or obese, and members of high-risk ethnic populations including African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. If you fall into any of these categories and don’t know whether or not you’ve had a blood sugar test or the result of that test, call your health care provider and take it on.
Getting moving is a great way to prevent the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes and to help improve control of diabetes if you have it. Losing between 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and walking at least 30 minutes five days a week can reduce the risk of diabetes by more than 50 percent. Part of taking on diabetes can be joining PCOD’s Million Steps Project by tracking the number of steps you take every day. A person walking 4,000 steps a day, five days a week for 50 weeks will walk a million steps. A mile is about 2,000 steps for most people, so you don’t even need a pedometer — just find a safe two-mile walk. Most people can walk a mile within a half hour, too, so joining the Million Steps Project can get you just where you need to be to prevent diabetes if you don’t have it and to improve living with it if you do.
Our group invites you to learn more about the work we are doing in our community and you can find us at www.diabetestakeiton.com. We welcome you to join us in taking on diabetes, whether joining us means calling your health care provider to get a diabetes screening, taking a walk as soon as you finish this article or coming to one of our meetings.