According to federal health statistics, 79 million Americans over the age of 20 have prediabetes, a condition marked by blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Up to 70 percent of these people will go on to develop fullblown diabetes, but shockingly, 90 percent don't even know they are at risk, primarily because prediabetes often has no symptoms.
In fact, as many as 28 percent of the 29.1 million Americans who already have type 2 diabetes don't know they have it, again because all but the most serious cases of diabetes may manifest with symptoms that seem harmless—like thirst and fatigue. People with type 2 diabetes have too much glucose (sugar) in their blood and not enough insulin to break it down. Large concentrations of blood glucose can cause irreparable damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nervous system.
November marks American Diabetes Month, and the American Diabetes Association encourages you to be proactive and take steps to prevent prediabetes and diabetes. If not diagnosed early, prediabetes can cause similar underlying damage to tissue and organs.
The ADA has created a simple seven-question Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test, available at www.diabetes.org. You should be aware of the following risk factors:
- Obesity or being overweight
- High blood pressure (above 130/80)
- Insulin resistance
- Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose
- Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of diabetes
- History of gestational diabetes
- Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
If you're already following the South Beach Diet and living the South Beach Diet lifestyle, you’re off to a good start!