Type 2 diabetes has become a major health issue in Mississippi. Thousands of adult Mississippians live with the complications of type 2 diabetes, including lower extremity amputations, end stage renal disease, blindness, loss of protective sensation, heart disease and premature death.
Type 2 diabetes is preventable. You can delay or prevent the disease by starting with the small steps below.
Know Your Risk
Type 2 diabetes develops when your body loses the ability to control the sugars in the food you eat. Being overweight is a primary cause of type 2 diabetes. As your blood sugar rises, damage to organs of the body begins.
Symptoms of high blood sugar are hard to spot without testing. But you are likely to be at risk if:
- You are overweight or obese.
- You are 45 years old or older. If you are 45 or older and overweight, it is strongly recommended that you be tested.
If you are younger than 45 and overweight, your risk is higher if:
- You have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes.
- Your family background is African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino.
- You have had gestational diabetes, or you have given birth to at least one baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
- Your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, or you have been told by a doctor that you have high blood pressure.
- Your cholesterol levels are high. Your HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) is 35 or lower, or your triglyceride level is 250 or higher.
- You get brisk exercise fewer than three times a week.
If you are at risk, make healthy changes, learn about symptoms, and make diabetes screening part of your regular checkups.
Prevention: A Change for Life
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by making lifestyle changes that include weight loss and more physical activity. In this video, people with prediabetes talk about how group lifestyle change classes offered as part of CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program helped them learn and keep healthy habits.
Signs and Symptoms
Many people have no signs or symptoms. Symptoms can also be so mild that you might not even notice them. Nearly six million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes and do not know it. Here is what to look for:
If you have one or more of these symptoms, and especially if you are at higher risk, arrange a diabetes screening as soon as possible. Your doctor, drop-in clinics, and even pharmacies can provide a blood glucose test and an A1C test to screen you for type 2 diabetes.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
Step 1: Reach and Maintain a Reasonable Body Weight
Being overweight can keep your body from using sugar properly. It can also cause high blood pressure.
The National Diabetes Prevention Program found that people who lost between 5 and 7 percent of their body weight significantly reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, losing only 10 pounds could make a difference!
Choose sensible ways to get in shape:
- Avoid crash diets. Instead, eat less of the foods you usually have. Limit the amount of fat, salt and sweets you eat.
- Increase your physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Set a reasonable weight-loss goal, such as losing 1 pound a week. Aim for a long-term goal of losing 5 to 7 percent of your total body weight.
Step 2: Make Wise Food Choices
What you eat has a big impact on your health. By making wise food choices, you can help control your body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
More about healthy eating
Step 3: Be Physically Active Every Day
Regular exercise tackles several risk factors at once. It helps you lose weight, keeps your cholesterol and blood pressure under control, and helps your body use insulin. Getting moderate active at the level of brisk walking for 30 minutes every day reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes and improves your overall health.
If you are not very active, you should start slowly, talking with your doctor first about what kinds of exercise would be safe for you. Make a plan to increase your daily activity, with the goal of being active at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
Choose activities you enjoy. Walking is one of the best ways to work extra activity into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs rather than an elevator or escalator.
- Park at the far end of the lot and walk.
- Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- Walk or bicycle instead of drive whenever you can.
Getting started with walking
If you have diabetes, you can take steps to manage it. One of our self-management training programs can provide skills to help keep you as healthy as possible.