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Diabetes Alert Day is Tuesday, March 28

You Better Watch Out

According to the book “Fast Food Nation”, 96% of American schoolchildren can identify Ronald McDonald. The only other fictional character which they were able to recognize more – was Santa Claus. Just let those facts sink in. Then ask yourself, ‘What exactly does that say about our nation?’

Today in the United States more than two-thirds of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. The numbers are staggering. Diabetes is a common factor in the majority of those numbers. In fact, the two main causes of diabetes are obesity and lack of exercise. Diabetes has become a serious epidemic in our country. It affects more than 29 million Americans or about 9% of the U.S. population. An estimated 86 million Americans have prediabetes and 90% of those don’t even know they have it. Probably the most alarming fact is diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.

Every year on the fourth Tuesday in March, The American Diabetes Association observes Diabetes Alert Day. It is a one-day, wake-up-call to inform Americans how serious and important diabetes is, as well as to alert everyone to the increasing numbers of people who are affected by this disease and how severe the outcome can be when left undiagnosed and untreated. This day encourages all to take the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test; a quick and easy test you can take online in minutes. This alert day also encourages anyone and everyone to participate in work friendly activities that teach you how you can reverse the effects of diabetes and live a healthier and longer life.

There are two types of diabetes; type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is the more severe form and is referred by different names like insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes-juvenile diabetes because it usually occurs in children and teenagers. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin which then causes the body’s immune system to attack its own body, and in this case, a part of the pancreas. Scientists do not know why, but they do know the immune system mistakenly recognizes the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, so it destroys them. It is this characteristic that classifies type 1 diabetes as an autoimmune disease.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all diagnosed cases and has several causes, but lifestyle and genetics are the most common. A combination of these can cause insulin resistance when your body doesn’t use insulin well. Insulin resistance is the most common cause of type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is also hereditary, which doesn’t guaranty you diabetes if your parent or parents have it, but it does mean you have a greater chance of getting it. Researchers have not been able to pin point which genes carry the risk, but the medical community has been researching certain genetic mutations that lead to a risk of type 2.

Symptoms of diabetes include: extreme increase in thirst, recurrent urination, unexplained weight loss, an increase in hunger, and tingling in your hands or feet. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor who can run a variety of tests, such as a fasting or a normal plasma glucose test.

To help reduce your risk of getting diabetes, tips include exercising regularly, eating a balanced and healthy diet, limiting processed foods in your diet, managing your weight, limiting your alcohol intake, and not smoking.

As Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation wrote, “Fast food is popular because it’s convenient, it’s cheap, and it tastes good. But the real cost of eating fast food never appears on the menu.”

The facts don’t lie. Ignoring them can be deadly. On March 28 take part in Diabetes Alert Day. Be aware. Be active. Be involved. It is time that we make healthier life choices for ourselves and for our children. It’s okay that Santa Claus is at the top of the list of fictional characters’ children recognize. Let’s change who number two is. Children don’t make choices where they eat, parents do.