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ings Awareness to Diabetes and Its Prevention

During the holidays, most people will enjoy many treats and comfort foods, but the V.I. Department of Health (DOH) encourages the community to eat in a healthy manner. November is National Diabetes Month and the Health Department will provide education on the disease and on prevention methods. Too often, diabetes goes unnoticed.

There are three types of diabetes:

1. Gestational Diabetes: A condition experienced by pregnant women with no prior history of diabetes, but have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy.

2. Type 1 Diabetes: A chronic condition usually diagnosed in children where the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is the hormone needed to transport glucose (sugar used for energy) from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.

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3. Type 2 Diabetes: A condition where your body does not use insulin properly, which causes your blood glucose levels to rise higher than normal. This is the most common form of diabetes.

Every 23 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. As of 2012, estimates revealed that 1 in 11 (more than 29 million) Americans had diabetes. This number is expected to increase by over a million newly diagnosed cases each year. Type 2 diabetes can be developed at any age, and in most cases, it can be prevented. One out of four people do not know they have diabetes; one out of three people will develop the disease in his or her lifetime.

There are also an additional 86 million Americans (one out of three adults) who have prediabetes, these individuals are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is the result of your blood sugar level being higher than normal but not high enough (as yet) to be diagnosed type 2 diabetes. Nine out of 10 people do not know they have prediabetes.

Diabetes not only affects the individual with the disease; family, friends, caregivers and the community also feel the burden. Adults with diabetes are 50 percent more likely to die than adults without diabetes. Medical costs for people with diabetes are twice as high, compared to people without diabetes. People who have diabetes are at higher risk of serious health complications such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, as well as the loss of toes, feet or legs.

Those who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, or had gestational diabetes, may be at a higher risk than others for type 2 diabetes. To determine a risk for diabetes, people can take the diabetes risk test at www.cdc.gov/diabetes. People can get their blood sugar tested to find out if they have prediabetes or diabetes.

To prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, a person must maintain a healthy weight, eat healthy and be physically active. Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes can manage their condition by working with a health professional, staying physically active and eating healthy.

Every November, the American Diabetes Association recognizes American Diabetes Month. The VIDOH Chronic Disease Prevention Program is increasing awareness in the territory about the disease. To spark a national conversation, the Association has started a campaign that asks people to share their stories about what it means to live with diabetes. It is called “This is Diabetes.” To share a story, go on social media and use the #ThisIsDiabetes.

For more information on diabetes and prediabetes, visit http://doh.vi.gov/, www.cdc/diabetes/prevention or www.diabetes.org.

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