Type 2 diabetes has become a major health issue in Mississippi. Thousands of adult Mississippians live with the complications of type 2 diabetes, including amputations, serious liver disease, blindness, heart disease and premature death.
Type 2 diabetes is preventable. You can delay or prevent the disease by taking simple steps today. This web page will tell you about your risk and how to keep it low.
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Know Your Risk
Type 2 diabetes develops when your body loses the ability to control the sugars from the food you eat. As your blood sugar rises, damage to organs of the body begins.
Being overweight is a primary cause of type 2 diabetes., but other factors, like age, also contribute. You are likely to be at risk if:
You are overweight or obese, or
You are 45 years old or older. If you are also overweight, it is strongly recommended that you be screened for diabetes (a simple blood sugar test).
Even if you are younger than 45, if you're overweight, your risk is higher if:
- You have a family member (parent, brother or sister) with diabetes.
- Your family background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino.
- You have had gestational diabetes, or you have given birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
- You have high blood pressure (140/90 or higher), or you have been told by a doctor that you have high blood pressure.
- Your have high cholesterol. Your HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) is 35 or lower, or your triglyceride level is 250 or higher.
- You don't get at least an hour of brisk exercise three times a week.
If you are at risk: make healthy changes, learn about symptoms, and make diabetes screening part of your regular checkups. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by making changes such as controlling your weight and getting more physical activity.
Signs and Symptoms
Many people have no signs or symptoms of diabetes, but still have unhealthy blood sugar levels. Symptoms can also be so mild that you might not even notice them. 300,000 Mississippians have type 2 diabetes. Twice that many may have type 2 diabetes and not know it.
Signs to look for:
- increased thirst
- increased hunger
- increased urination, especially at night
- blurred vision
- sores that do not heal
If you have one or more of these symptoms, and especially if you are at higher risk, arrange a diabetes screening as soon as possible. Your doctor, drop-in clinics, and even pharmacies can provide a blood glucose test and an A1C test to screen you for type 2 diabetes.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
Step 1: Reduce Your Body Weight
Being overweight can keep your body from using sugar properly. It can also cause high blood pressure.
Even modest weight loss makes a difference, The National Diabetes Prevention Program found that people who lost between 5 and 7 percent of their body weight significantly reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, losing only 10 pounds could make a difference!
Choose sensible ways to get in shape:
- Avoid crash diets. Instead, eat less of the foods you usually have. Limit the amount of fat, salt and sweets you eat.
- Increase your physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Set a reasonable weight-loss goal, such as losing 1 pound a week. Aim for a long-term goal of losing 5 to 7 percent of your total body weight.
Step 2: Make Wise Food Choices
By making wise food choices, you can help control your body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Choose sensible foods. Keep desserts, snack foods and treats to a minimum. Fast food is usually a poor choice for weight loss.
- Take a hard look at the serving sizes of the foods you eat. Reduce serving sizes of main courses, desserts, and foods high in sugar or fat. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your fat intake. Cheese, fried foods and fast foods are all higher-fat foods to avoid. Fat should make up about 25 percent of your total calories (no more than about 50 grams of fat a day). Your doctor or a dietitian can help you figure out how much fat to have. You can check food labels for fat content, too.
- Reduce the number of calories you have each day. Your doctor or dietitian can help you with a meal plan that emphasizes weight loss.
- Keep a food and exercise log. Write down what you eat, how much you exercise — anything that helps keep you on track.
- Work alongside family members or friends who will support you in your efforts.
More about healthy eating
Step 3: Be Physically Active Every Day
Regular exercise tackles several risk factors at once. It helps you lose weight, keeps your cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps lower your blood sugar.
Moderate activity such as brisk walking for 30 minutes every day reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and improves your overall health.
If you are not very active, you should start slowly, talking with your doctor first about what kinds of exercise would be safe for you. Make a plan to increase your daily activity, with the goal of being active at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
Choose activities you enjoy. Walking is one of the best ways to work extra activity into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator.
- Park at the far end of the lot and walk.
- Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- Walk or bicycle instead of drive whenever you can.
Prevention: A Change for Life
If you have diabetes, you can take steps to manage it. One of our self-management training programs can provide skills to help keep you as healthy as possible.