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November 10, 2015 6:32 PMCategory: Nutrition, Physical Activity

Planning and Prevention: November Is Diabetes Awareness Month

By improving access to healthy food and implementing strategies to promote physical activity, Plan4Health coalitions are addressing chronic disease in their communities.

Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the U.S. and the numbers of those afflicted is staggering. Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. are diabetic, with an estimated 86 million more in the pre-diabetic stages and more than 8 million believed to be undiagnosed (American Diabetes Association, 2015).

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(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015)

To help raise awareness around the diabetes epidemic, November has been designated as National Diabetes Awareness Month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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So, what is diabetes?

In short, diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose builds up to abnormally high levels due to lack of insulin or a bodies inability to use insulin effectively. There are multiple types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, your body no longer makes insulin or enough insulin because the body’s immune system — which normally protects you from infection by getting rid of bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances — has attacked and destroyed the cells that make insulin (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2014).

Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance. As a result, the body needs more insulin to help glucose enter cells and overtime the body cannot keep up with demand and type 2 diabetes is diagnosed. (NIDDK, 2014).

Gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes can develop when a woman is pregnant. Pregnant women make hormones that can lead to insulin resistance. All women have insulin resistance late in their pregnancy. If the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin during pregnancy, a woman develops gestational diabetes. (NIDDK, 2014).

Prediabetes
Prediabetes is when the amount of glucose in your blood is above normal yet not high enough to be called diabetes. With prediabetes, your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke are higher. With some weight loss and moderate physical activity, you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes (NIDDK, 2014).

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You might be thinking — can I prevent diabetes? Can I manage it?

There is no cure for diabetes but preventive measures can be taken and the disease can be managed. Two of the recommendations for both preventing and managing diabetes are eating healthier and increasing physical activity — the two focus areas of Plan4Health!

The work being done throughout the country by Plan4Health coalitions is helping to lessen the diabetes burden and assisting those with diabetes in leading healthier lives. Check out a recent op-ed from the Plan4Health coalition in St. Louis and the work the coalition has undertaken to make streets safer and more walkable, increasing opportunities for physical activity: Do our streets match our communities’ values?.  

Additional information and resources about diabetes are available from:

The above information should not be used to diagnose, manage or treat diabetes. For medical advice and consultation please see a healthcare professional. 

References:

Images from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pixabay.