Alert Week: What is Your Diabetes Risk? | Mar. 23, 2011
Have you taken your Diabetes Risk Test yet? Tuesday was National Diabetes Alert Day, where the American Diabetes Association challenged everyone to take this important test. The Diabetes Risk Test asks user to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risks for prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Risk Test shows whether you are at low, moderate or high risk for type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease where blood sugar (glucose) levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat turns into glucose for the body to use for energy. The pancreas, which is an organ lying near the stomach, is responsible for making a hormone called insulin which helps glucose get into the cells of our body. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes glucose to build up in the blood.
Diabetes is serious business. The disease now strikes nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States. But even more appalling is that an additional 79 million (one in three adults in the U.S.) have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The diagnosis of diabetes may come seven to ten years after the onset of the disease. Because so much damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves can happen during this time, early diagnosis is critical. Many people don’t realize that the No. 1 cause of amputations is due to peripheral arterial disease in the feet or legs caused by diabetes. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
People with prediabetes can have blood glucose (blood sugar) levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Those with prediabetes are more likely to develop diabetes within 10 years, and they are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. But most of this can be prevented with early screening for your risk factors.
The University of Idaho is the recipient of a million dollar NIH grant to investigate the effectiveness of virtual worlds in providing diet, physical activity and medication education for those with diabetes. If what we have designed proves to be effective, we hope to open up our virtual world to the public next year. In the meantime, here are some great links to assess your risk and to provide you with more information:
- Test if you are at risk for diabetes: www.diabetes.org/risktest
- An online Resource Guide: www.diabetesresourceguide.idaho.gov
- Diabetes-related education/handouts/pamphlets through the National Diabetes Education Program: www.ndep.nih.gov
Diabetes-related information through Panhandle Health Department:
Kristen Herron, RD