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70 Million Americans with Pre-Diabetes Not Aware of the Risk, Reports CDC

Ryan | March 22nd, 2013

Pre DiabetesOf the approximately 79 million Americans who are currently in jeopardy of developing diabetes, only 11 percent are aware of the risks they face, according to representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Being at risk for developing type 2 diabetes is a condition known as “pre diabetes.” Pre diabetics exhibit dangerously high blood sugar levels and other early warning signs of diabetes, though they have not yet developed the full-blown disease.

Americans fail to recognize signs of diabetes

CDC researcher Ann Albright, Director of the Division of Diabetes Translation, pulled no punches when she commented on the report’s findings, as quoted by Health Day: “We have a huge issue with the small number of people who know they have [pre diabetes]. It’s up a bit from when we measured it last, but it’s still abysmally low.”

The lack of education and awareness in regard to the early warning signs of diabetes will inevitably preclude those at risk from employing strategies for diabetes prevention. If steps towards reversing diabetes (which include specialized diabetic diet plans, regular exercise, and other lifestyle modifications) are not taken, experts warn that up to 30% of people diagnosed with pre diabetes will develop full-blown versions of the condition within 10 years.

The ever-growing number of Americans with diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, with an estimated 25.8 people (approximately 8.3 percent of the population) suffering from the disease. Serious complications from type 2 diabetes include heart and kidney damage, circulation problems, and vision difficulties.

The CDC released its report in the March 22 issue of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The federal agency found that the low recognition numbers were evenly distributed across the pre diabetic population, no matter the income bracket, educational background, or quality of healthcare of the people studied.

Diabetes prevention is possible

Health News quotes Dr. Spyros Mezitis of New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital as remarking, “People don’t know about pre diabetes, they don’t exercise, they don’t eat appropriate foods and we are going to have many more diabetics in the near future than we have now.”

Report author Albright echoed his sentiments. “”We need people to take action if they are at risk for diabetes,” she said. “We know how to prevent type 2 diabetes, or at least delay it, so there are things people can do, but the first step is knowing what your risk is—to know if you have pre diabetes.”

Risk factors for pre diabetes include excessive weight and obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and consuming an unhealthy diet. Another risk factor for type 2 diabetes is family history, as there is often thought to be a genetic component to the disease. As Albright puts it, “Your genetics loads the gun, then your lifestyle pulls the trigger.”

Reversing pre diabetes with medical weight loss

The alarmingly large number of diabetics and pre diabetics in the United States is even more troubling given the fact that diet and exercise alone have been proven in medical studies to successfully reverse pre diabetes. Diabetic diets focus on nutritional balance, reducing intake of sugars, saturated fats, and carbohydrates, while emphasizing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. “The good news is we know there are things you can do to prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes,” explains Albright. “You can prevent or delay diabetes if you lose 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight and get 150 minutes of physical activity a week.”

Physicians in the field of medical weight loss have achieved great success in managing and even reversing pre diabetes and diabetes with customized diet and exercise plans, tailored to each individual’s medical history, body composition, and lifestyle habits. One-on-one personalized counseling from a doctor has been shown to increase the likelihood that patients stick to their new healthy eating habits not just in the short term, but permanently.

If you are interested in learning more about treating pre diabetes with diet and weight loss, a doctor-designed program—such as those offered by The Center for Medical Weight Loss—may be right for you. Enter your zip code in the box above to see if any of the 450 nationwide locations are in your area. Special introductory offers are available at select Centers for first-time visitors.