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Health Department Notes: March 27 is Diabetes Alert Day

American Diabetes Association Alert Day, which is held every fourth Tuesday in March, is a one-day, “wake-up call” asking the American public to take the diabetes risk test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

On March 27, the public is encouraged to take the diabetes risk test, as well as to share the test with everyone they care about - friends, family members and colleagues. With each person that takes the test and knows their risk, the Association is that much closer to stopping diabetes.

The diabetes risk test asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risks for pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Preventative tips are provided for everyone who takes the test, including encouraging those at high risk to talk with their health care provider.

There are an estimated 86 million American adults who have pre-diabetes. Those with pre-diabetes have blood glucose (sugar) higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Early intervention via lifestyle changes such as weight loss and increased physical activity can help delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Everyone should be aware of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. People who are overweight, live a sedentary lifestyle and are over the age of 45 should consider themselves at risk for the disease. African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and people who have a family history of the disease are also at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately, diagnosis often comes seven to 10 years after the onset of the disease, after disabling and even deadly complications have had time to develop. Therefore, early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.

A strong commitment to the prevention of type 2 diabetes by increasing awareness of pre-diabetes and actively engaging individuals in preventative behaviors like weight loss, physical activity and healthful eating. Alert Day is a singular moment in time in which we can raise awareness and prompt action among the general public – particularly those at risk. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by losing just seven percent of body weight, (such as 15 pounds if you weigh 200) through regular physical activity, (30 minutes a day, five days a week) and healthy eating. By understanding your risk, you can take the necessary steps to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Take your free diabetes risk test by visiting www.diabetes.org. The diabetes risk test is available year-round.

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