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Understanding and preventing Type 2 diabetes

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Diabetes is a serious disease: It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and can lead to many life-threatening health complications. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30.3 million people in the United States — nearly one in every 10 Americans — have diabetes and about a quarter of them aren’t aware that they have it. Even more troubling: Of the more than 84 million American adults (about 1 in 3 adults) who have prediabetes, 90% don’t know they’re affected.

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Diabetes leads to excess blood sugar, which can seriously compromise health. There are two types of diabetes: People with Type 1 diabetes don’t produce insulin (the hormone responsible for monitoring blood sugar), while people with Type 2 diabetes can’t use insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes is most common — about 95% of adults with diabetes have Type 2.  

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are:

  • Being overweight
  • Having a family history of diabetes (i.e., an immediate family member with diabetes)
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Being over age 45
  • History of diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

 If you are wondering if you are at risk for diabetes talk to your doctor about a simple blood screening test (the most common screening test is called Hemoglobin A1C).

If you are at risk, the good news is that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. Lifestyle changes, such as eating healthfully, exercising and losing weight, can cut the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by more than half. DPP programs, like those offered at every campus at UC, are a fantastic resource for improving your health.

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