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Diabetes awareness: Diabetes Alert Day

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Tips & recipes to manage diabetes

The American Diabetes Association Alert Day is a one-day "wake-up call" asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they have high odds for developing type 2 diabetes. In addition to encouraging you to Join the Million Challenge on March 22 by taking the risk assessment, we’re also providing new information on the recently identified US “diabetes belt” as well as tips to manage diabetes, diabetes prevention tips, and healthy diabetes-friendly diet tips and recipes.

Diabetes Alert Day

Diabetes Alert Day 2011

Beginning on Diabetes Alert Day, the American Diabetes Association will rally the public to "Join the Million Challenge," which will run through April 22. The goal is to encourage people to help stop diabetes by taking the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and to inspire their friends, family members and colleagues to do the same. The association is aiming to get 1 million people to take the test.

Take the Diabetes Risk Test

The Diabetes Risk Test asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risk factors for pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Risk Test will tell you whether you are at low, moderate or high risk for type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that if you are at high risk, make an appointment to talk with your health care provider.

To take the the Diabetes Risk Test:

Visit www.stopdiabetes.com
Call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383)
Text JOIN to 69866 (Standard data and message rates apply)

Although Diabetes Alert Day is a one-day event, the Diabetes Risk Test is available year-round.

Are you in the diabetes belt?

Recent research published in the April 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine identifies a "diabetes belt" in the southeastern US. The belt, which includes 644 counties in 15 states, has a significantly higher prevalence of diabetes.

The diabetes belt includes portions of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as the entire state of Mississippi.

Diabetes risk factors in the diabetes belt

Data from the diabetes belt showed prevalence rates at 11 percent or higher. By comparing demographics and risk factors such as gender, age, education, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and race/ethnicity, the researchers found four factors that distinguished the diabetes belt from the rest of the country.

Nearly one-third of the difference in diabetes prevalence between the diabetes belt and the rest of the US is associated with sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Thirty percent of the excess risk was associated with modif?able risk factors, and 37 percent with nonmodif?able factors, such as age and race/ethnicity.

Researchers found the following four predominant risk factors in the diabetes belt:

  • Population of the diabetes belt counties contained substantially more non-Hispanic African Americans compared to the rest of the country (23.8 percent for the diabetes belt, 8.6 percent for the rest of the country).
  • Prevalence of obesity (32.9 percent vs. 26.1 percent) was greater in the diabetes belt than in the rest of the US.
  • Sedentary lifestyle (30.6 percent vs. 24.8 percent) was greater in the diabetes belt than in the rest of the US.
  • Proportion of people with a college degree was smaller (24.1 percent vs. 34.3 percent).

Does this mean that you're going to get diabetes if you happen to live in the diabetes belt? Not necessarily. Lawrence E. Barker, Ph.D., lead investigator of the study, says "People who live in the diabetes belt will reduce their chance of developing type 2 diabetes if they are more active physically and, for those who are overweight or obese, if they lose weight. Taking these steps will eventually lower the prevalence of diabetes within the diabetes belt."

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