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November 15, 2010

Prevention Monday

According to a 2007 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7.8 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes and nearly 25 percent of cases are undiagnosed. Moreover, another 7 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 and 25.9 percent of adults 20 and older have impaired fasting glucose (IFG), which is one indicator for the condition known as pre-diabetes. Untreated diabetes can cause a number of health concerns, including cardiovascular problems, kidney damage, blindness, nerve damage, digestive troubles, oral infections, depression and more. As November is American Diabetes Month, use this time to learn important risk factors for diabetes and tips to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

According to Elizabeth Selvin, assistant professor of Epidemiology the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “Rigorous research has shown that the vast majority of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by maintaining a healthful weight, having an active lifestyle, and eating nutritious foods.” Studies such as the national Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) have shown that just a 5-7 percent loss of body weight, due to a healthier diet and 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week, have been proven as successful measures in preventing and delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes in at-risk individuals. Thus, nutritious eating and regular exercise are important avenues by which one can greatly reduce their chance of becoming diabetic.

Moreover, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes. The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight or obese, being of African-American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Island, or Hispanic American/Latino descent, having a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher, having an immediate family member with diabetes, exercising fewer than three times a week, experiencing gestational diabetes, or having abnormal cholesterol (in which HDL, “good,” cholesterol is 35 or lower and/or a triglyceride level of 250 or higher).

The CDC recommends that all individuals above 45 years in age, particularly those who are overweight, be tested for diabetes. In addition, overweight individuals under 45 who have one or more of the above risk factors should also consider testing.

For more information on diabetes prevention and prevalence, visit CDC's website.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.