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Many Americans Fear Being Diagnosed With Diabetes
Date:3/24/2009

s is risky, 50 percent said they did just that.

"It's pretty amazing, the level of inactivity and poor eating," said Bergenstal, who is also executive director of the International Diabetes Center at Park-Nicollet Health Services in Minneapolis. "Most people most know it's not good for them."

He suspects that some people are in denial, knowing on some level that poor eating habits and a lack of exercise are both unhealthy, but thinking it won't affect them.

"We started doing Diabetes Alert Day 21 years ago," he said. At that time, about 6 million people in the United States had diabetes. "Now, 20 years later, 18 million are diagnosed," he said, with a total of nearly 24 million either diagnosed or suspected to have the condition.

"It's gone up 300 percent in 20 years," Bergenstal said.

Cut Your Risk of Diabetes

The first step to cutting your risk of diabetes? Figure out if you actually are at risk and what your risk factors are, said Mary Austin, a diabetes educator and consultant in Detroit. To find out, ask your doctor. Or, take the American Diabetes Association online quiz to assess your risk. Then address the risks that apply to you by following Austin's advice:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. "Modest weight loss -- 5 to 10 percent of your starting weight -- can have a significant impact," she said.
  • Start moving. Research has suggested that getting 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week can lower diabetes risk, Austin said.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure boosts the risk of getting diabetes.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. "Increased intake of fruits and vegetables correlates with reduced blood pressure," Austin said.

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