The American Diabetes Association wants more Americans, especially black Americans, to become more aware of how to prevent and control the disease.
The association’s Alert Day, which is held every fourth Tuesday in March, is a one-day “wake-up call” asking the public to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
According to the Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the U.S. have the disease and nearly 7 million of them don’t know it. In addition, another 79 million, or one in three American adults, have pre-diabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Diagnosis comes late to many people, as much as 7 to 10 years after the onset of the disease, usually after a health crisis, like a stroke, a diagnosis of heart disease or loss of vision.
People at high risk include those who are overweight, live a sedentary lifestyle and are over the age of 45. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and people who have a family history of the disease also are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Research has shown, however, that diabetes can be prevented by losing as little as 7 percent of their body weight (i.e., 15 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds), eating better and exercising just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
“You just make yourself do it,” Green said about having the tools at your disposal to improve your health. “You can have it all, but if you don’t use it, there’s a price to pay.”