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At risk for type 2 diabetes? Say ‘Not Me’

December 30, 2011
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Need an extra incentive to help you keep that New Year’s resolution to lose weight and exercise more often? How about feeling better, looking better, and saving money — all by preventing type 2 diabetes? How’s that for motivation?

More than 31 percent of adult Tennesseans are considered obese, predisposing them to type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 79 million Americans adults have a condition called prediabetes, which puts them one step away from becoming diabetic, and 90 percent of those people have no idea they’re even at risk.

Diabetes is the nation’s fifth-leading cause of death, and having diabetes raises your chances of other health problems, such as heart disease, blindness and kidney failure. Being overweight, and having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of diabetes and other factors increase your risk for diabetes.

If you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes, you can change your future by saying “Not Me” and taking action to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

The key is to know your numbers: glucose (sugar), blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. Lowering your body weight by as little as 5 to 10 percent can cut your diabetes risk, sometimes in half. In addition to helping to delay the onset of diabetes, losing weight can also help prevent a slew of other health conditions.

The best approach is to combine healthy eating with regular physical activity. But before you begin, it’s important to set the stage for successfully achieving your goals.

Create a support system. Share your New Year’s resolution with friends and family and begin a healthy lifestyle together. Working together encourages good dietary habits. You’ll have a team to cheer you on during the peaks, plateaus and valleys along the way.

Eat right. Instead of just setting a goal to eat better, try removing less healthy foods from your kitchen to eliminate temptation, especially foods with saturated and trans fats, sodium and added sugars. Fill that space instead with appealing healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, lower-fat and nonfat dairy products.

Get active. Consult your doctor and start slowly and work up to 30 minutes of moderate activity (such as walking) five times a week. Pick an activity you enjoy, and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. If you can’t spare 30 minutes at a time, do three 10-minute or two 15-minute workouts.

There’s an app for that. Download the OptumizeMe app on your smartphone to help you stick to your health and fitness resolutions. The app lets people create fitness challenges with friends, co-workers and others in their social network to help achieve health and fitness goals.

Preventing diabetes is not something you have to do alone. There are many other resources that can help.

Start by asking your doctor if you’re at risk for diabetes (over age 45, overweight, inactive, family history of diabetes) and then learn what you can do to prevent the disease. Early and aggressive action can reverse the course of the disease in people with prediabetes, and reduce the devastating impact of the disease on people who are already diagnosed.

UnitedHealthcare and many other health insurers offer a wide variety of programs to assess diabetes risk, including free screenings, member education and outreach, as well as disease management and care-coordination programs to help health plan participants better control their condition and reduce costs.

And while you’re at it, check out www.NotMe.com, a national health initiative recently introduced by the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance to help Americans prevent and control diabetes.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans at risk for this disease, you do have the power to change your fate, but first you have to be willing to take the first step. This year, for the sake of your family and your own health, resolve to stand up and say “Not Me” to diabetes.

Article source: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111230/OPINION03/312300037/1969/NEWS

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