America has a weight problem. You hear about it on TV and radio, even your doctor has an opinion, it’s the main topic of conversation at school.
Everyone’s discussing the latest diet.
There’s another good reason for maintaining a healthy weight — other than fitting into those designer jeans — diabetes Diabetes affects more than 15 million people in America. Some don’t even know it. Don’t think that because you’re young you’re not at risk. People can get diabetes at any age. Diabetes is a condition where your blood glucose (commonly called blood sugar) is too high. Glucose comes from the food you eat and is also produced in your liver and muscles.
Your blood carries the glucose to all the cells in your body. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas and is released into your blood to help the glucose from food get into your cells. If your body doesn’t make enough insulin or if the insulin doesn’t work properly, glucose can’t get into your cells and this can cause high blood sugar levels called diabetes.
Symptoms include excessive thirst, hunger, frequent urination, dehydration and often weight loss.
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes
Formerly called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependant diabetes, type 1 diabetes is usually first diagnosed in children, teenagers, or young adults. In this form of diabetes the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body’s immune system has attacked and destroyed them. Treatment for type 1 diabetes includes taking insulin shots or using an insulin pump, making wise food choices, exercise regularly, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, closely monitoring blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes
Formerly called adult-onset diabetes, this term is no longer appropriate because 123,000 people under 20 years of age now have the disease. People can develop type 2 diabetes at any age — even during childhood.
In type 2 diabetes the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin and the fat, muscles, or liver cells don’t use it properly. Being overweight can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Treatment includes diabetes medicines, making wise food choices, exercising regularly, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, closely monitoring blood sugar.
Some women develop gestational diabetes during the late stages of pregnancy. Although this form of diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, a woman who has had it is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes is caused by the hormones of pregnancy — the mother experiences a shortage of insulin.
There are several potentially serious complications to diabetes.
These include cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney disease and limb amputation. Early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent or delay onset of these conditions.
Although researchers do not know the exact cause of type 2 diabetes, several risk factors have been identified. They include family history, obesity or being overweight, physical inactivity, older age, and race/ethnic background. Certain ethnic populations are at particularly high risk, including African-Americans and Hispanic/Latino-Americans.
An estimated 13.0 percent of African-Americans and 10.2 percent of Hispanic/Latino- Americans are more likely to develop diabetes — and complications — than Caucasians.
It’s impossible to control heredity and racial origin. But there are some major risk factors you can control like weight, regular exercise, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol. Remember, the choices you’re making today could affect your health in the future.