Do you have diabetes and not know it?

June 20, 2014—The number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes is on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers suggest that many people who are at risk for the disease are unaware of the changes happening inside their bodies—but if these people learn more about the risks and the steps they can take to get better, perhaps the number of people with diabetes will go down in the future.

About the study

Diabetes now affects more than 29 million people in the United States, up from an estimated 26 million people in 2010, according to CDC’s National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014. Shockingly, 1 in 4 people living with the disease isn’t aware that he or she has it.

Further, more than a third of U.S. adults have prediabetes. People who have prediabetes have high blood sugar levels, but they’re not quite high enough to qualify for a full diabetes diagnosis. These people are at risk of developing diabetes within five years, but with weight loss and exercise, they could keep full-blown diabetes from developing. But it seems that many of these people just aren’t aware that high blood sugar is a problem for them.

Other important findings from the report include:

  • 1.7 million adults age 20 or older were given a diagnosis of diabetes in 2012.
  • 208,000 people under age 20 have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
  • Non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults are about twice as likely to have diagnosed diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults.
  • Prediabetes occurs in 35 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 38 percent of Hispanics and 39 percent of non-Hispanic blacks.

Read an overview of the report here.

The take-home message
Diabetes affects a growing number of Americans, but not all adults who have the disease are aware of their condition. Adults 45 and older, especially those who are overweight, should discuss diabetes testing with their doctors. Overweight adults under 45 should also consider getting tested if they have additional risk factors for the disease, including:

  • High blood pressure (140 mm Hg / 90 mm Hg or higher).
  • An HDL (good) blood cholesterol level of 35 mg/dL or lower and triglyceride levels at or over 250 mg/dL.
  • An immediate family member with diabetes.
  • A history of gestational diabetes or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
  • Being African American, American Indian, Asian American or Pacific Islander or having Hispanic American/Latino heritage.
  • Exercising fewer than three times per week.

To learn more about your diabetes risk, take this quiz.

While diabetes can be managed through lifestyle changes and/or medications, the best way to prevent or delay the disease is by losing weight. In fact, losing as little as 5 percent to 7 percent of one’s body weight can help stave off type 2 diabetes in high-risk adults, according to CDC. Talk to your doctor about how you can lose weight safely and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.


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