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Americans Get Failing Grade on Diabetes Awareness
Date:11/2/2009

r unknown factors -- not just diet -- can be contributors. Even some thin people have type 2 diabetes.

Still, only one-third of the people surveyed knew that too much sugar did not cause diabetes. And more than half of the respondents wrongly believed that anyone who was overweight or obese would eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

But the opposite belief -- that you won't get diabetes even though you're overweight -- can be a problem, too, experts say.

Frank Timmons, from Rockland, Mass., tipped the scales at 347 pounds. When he went to the doctor in November 2008, his blood sugar level was 350 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A normal random blood sugar reading should be less than 140 mg/dL.

"I was kind of a train wreck," Timmons admitted in a statement released by the American Diabetes Association. But, he used his diagnosis to kick-start a new life. Just a year later, Timmons has lost 140 pounds and his blood sugar levels are back in the normal range. He said the biggest factor in his success is exercise: He walks at a brisk pace for 45 minutes each day.

"You have to make up your mind to be well," Timmons said. "It is hard to do. Once you dedicate yourself to it, you will be amazed at your success."

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, included 2,081 men and women from across the United States. Their average age was 46, and 285 of them had been diagnosed with diabetes.

The survey also found that:

  • Just 12 percent knew that people with diabetes don't have to follow a more restrictive diet than the healthy diet that's recommended for the general population.
  • Almost one in 10 respondents thought there was a cure for diabetes, and 19 percent weren't sure. (Although there are ways to manage diabetes, there is no cure.)
  • Less than 60 percent could correctly distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
  • Almost 20 percent erroneously believed
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