Nearly 55,000 adults in Southwest Utah are unaware they have prediabetes. Many of them will become diabetic within a few years if they make no lifestyle changes.
In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled as the American population has aged and become more overweight and obese. In Southwest Utah, about 60% of adults are either overweight or obese which is a leading risk factor in Type 2 diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
There are three main types of Diabetes:
Type 1 Diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that stops your body from making insulin. About 5% of the people who have diabetes have type 1. Symptoms of type 1 diabetes often develop quickly. It’s usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults. If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to take insulin every day to survive. Currently, no one knows how to prevent type 1 diabetes.
With Type 2 Diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (though increasingly in children, teens, and young adults). You may not notice any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight if you’re overweight, healthy eating, and getting regular physical activity.
Gestational Diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health complications. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born but increases your risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Your baby is more likely to become obese as a child or teen, and more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life too.
What are the complications of Diabetes?
Complications from diabetes include heart disease, stroke, vision loss, nerve damage, kidney disease, and amputations. In addition, diabetes puts you at risk for gum disease, hearing loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
Complications usually develop over a long time without any symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to make and keep doctor and dentist appointments even if you feel fine. Early treatment can help prevent or delay diabetes-related health conditions and improve overall health.
What does it mean to have Prediabetes?
Prediabetes means your blood glucose (sugar) is higher than normal, but not yet diabetes. Approximately 84 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
The good news is that if you have prediabetes, you can make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems.
What causes Prediabetes?
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into cells for use as energy. If you have prediabetes, the cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes—and type 2 diabetes down the road.
Am I at risk of Prediabetes?
If you are overweight, 45 years or older, have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes, not physically active, or had diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds you may be at risk of developing prediabetes. Race and ethnicity are also factors.
Take the Prediabetes quiz to find out if you are at risk for prediabetes.
What can I do to reduce my risk of Type 2 Diabetes?
If you have prediabetes, losing a small amount of weight if you’re overweight and getting regular physical activity can lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means around 5% to 7% of your body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means getting at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
In Southwest Utah, we are fortunate to have many resources available to care for diabetes and help prevent type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems. All of the resources listed on these guides are either free, evidence-based, ADA Recognized, AADE Accrediated, and/or an established Healthy Living Program. Please see our Diabetes and Prediabetes Resource Guides. It is really important to regularly make and come prepared to all your healthcare appointments.
Contact us for additional information!
Mallory Spendlove MDA, RDN, CD
Diabetes Program Project Coordinator
620 South 400 East
St. George, UT 84770