Are You At Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

Unlike type 1 diabetes which comes on rapidly and isn’t currently preventable by making lifestyle changes, type 2 diabetes is an insidious disease that develops slowly over time. That gradual onset gives you time to take action. It is not for nothing that they say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  The first thing to do is to find out if you are at risk.

The following criteria put you at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is above 25 (23 if you are of Asian descent)
  • Are not physically active
  • Have a parent, sister or brother with diabetes
  • Are of African American, Latino/Hispanic American, Asian American, Native American or Pacific Islander descent
  • You have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, or have a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Your A1C is 5.7 percent or higher
  • You have been told that you have Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG)
  • Your blood pressure is higher than 140 over 90
  • Your HDL (good) cholesterol is less than 35 and/or your triglycerides (blood fats) are higher than 250
  • You have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • You have a waist circumference greater than 35 inches (for a woman) or 40 inches (for a man)
  • You have a history of vascular disease (heart attack, angina, stroke)
  • You have acanthosis nigricans (velvety brown markings on your neck or under your arms)

If you meet one or more of these criteria, you should make an appointment with your health care provider to be checked for pre-diabetes or diabetes.  And everybody over 45, whether they have any of the above issues or not, should be screened.

Tests to see if you have diabetes are easy and quick- most often it requires only a simple blood test.

Sometimes, you’ll need to take a  fasting plasma glucose (FPG), in which you fast for at least 8 hours before (make this less of an inconvenience by scheduling your  test in the morning and don’t eat anything after midnight).

Or you might need to get an A1C reading, which can be taken at any time and no fasting is required. This measures your average blood glucose levels over the past few months.

The third test, known as an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), is usually used in special circumstances such as pregnancy. You will be asked to drink a sugary beverage and your blood glucose will be checked over a 2 hour period.  Like the FPG, you have to fast for this test.

What do the test results mean?



No Diabetes Pre-diabetes Diabetes
Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) Less than100 mg/dl Between 100 and 125 mg/dl 126 mg/dl or greater
2 hours after meal or 75 gram glucose drink (OGTT) Less than140 mg/dl Between 140 and 199 mg/dl 200 mg/dl or greater
A1C Less than 5.7% Between 5.7 to 6.4% 6.5% or greater

If the tests put you in the pre-diabetes range you have the opportunity to make some lifestyle changes to slow or maybe even prevent the progression into type 2 diabetes. You can start eating more healthfully, which includes eating more healthy carbs such as whole grains, more whole fruits, beans, non-starchy vegetables, and low-fat milk, and lean proteins and moderate amounts of unsaturated fats. You can start exercising on a regular basis—losing just  7 to 10 percent of your body weight helps to improve your numbers.

Seventy-nine million Americans have pre-diabetes and most don’t know it.  Finding out is the first step towards doing something about it.

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