Knowing about your family’s health history goes a long way toward preventing serious diseases like diabetes. Many people who develop Type 2 diabetes have one or more family members with the disease, so it’s important to know your family’s diabetes health history. The good news is that people with a family history of diabetes can take steps now to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is partnering with the National Diabetes Education Program to share this message during National Diabetes Awareness Month this month.
You can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes by losing a small amount of weight — 5 to 7 percent (10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person) — and becoming more active. Keys to success, which will benefit the entire family, are:
■ Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, at least five days a week.
■ Eat a variety of foods that are low in fat and reduce the number of calories you eat each day.
■ To help achieve health goals, write down everything you eat and drink, and the number of minutes you are active each day. Review these notes daily.
Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 5.9 percent of adults in Colorado had diagnosed diabetes, up from 3.8 percent in 1994. On Oct. 22, 2010, the CDC announced that the number of Americans with diabetes is projected to double or triple by 2050.
It is estimated that another 57 million adults in the U.S. have pre-diabetes, placing them at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. In addition, it is estimated that one-third of people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. People with undiagnosed diabetes can experience damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys and limbs without having any symptoms.
In recognition of November’s National Diabetes Awareness Month, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association will offer free cardiovascular screenings, which include blood glucose measures to screen for diabetes. Call Karla at 970-875-1880 to make an appointment in Steamboat Springs. To learn if you are at risk of diabetes, take the diabetes risk test at www.yourdiabetesinfo.org.
Atusa Baghery, MPH
Community health educator, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association