National Diabetes Month is an annual awareness campaign that seeks to improve the public’s understanding of the issues are surrounding diabetes. Held each November in the United States, the program focuses on raising awareness amongst non-sufferers as well as people who have the condition.

In particular, it tries to raise awareness among target groups, people who may well go on to develop type 2 diabetes in later life. Many individuals who fit into one of these high risk groups do not even know about it. So, how can you tell if your lifestyle puts you at a higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes?

What You Need to KnowNational Diabetes Awareness Month

It is not fully understood what causes Type 2 Diabetes to develop, but there is a strong correlation between obesity and risk. People with a BMI of 30 or over are statistically 80 times more likely to develop the condition when compared to individuals with a BMI of 22 or below.

In addition, anyone who has a parent, sister or brother with diabetes should consider themselves in a high risk group. Having a close relative with the condition is often an indicator that you too may develop diabetes in later life.

Ethnicity also plays a roll, people with Asian, Mexican, African, Pacific Islander, or Hawaiian descent face greater risks of developing the condition. Furthermore, any woman who developed gestational diabetes, and gave birth to a baby weighing in excess of 9 pounds is also considered to be at high risk.

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes also raises as we age, and goes up dramatically after 45. This is likely due to the fact that we exercise less as we get older.

Finally, behavioral factors need to be taken into consideration. People who are physically active fewer than three times a week are much more likely to develop the condition than people who exercise regularly.

How Risks Interact

Belonging to any single at-risk group means that you should consider making lifestyle changes to mitigate the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. If you belong to two or more means high risk groups, the risk of developing diabetes is even higher.

Not all risk factors can be mitigated though lifestyle changes. No amount of regular exercise is going to change our age, but through choosing to eat more healthy and to take regular exercise, we can still keep our overall risk as low as possible by reducing the number of high risk groups we belong to.

Age should not be considered to be the most important single factor, rather an important consideration when looked at as part of the bigger picture. Despite the fact that age is a known risk multiplier for Type 2 Diabetes, in recent times younger people from all ethnic backgrounds have been diagnosed with the condition in far greater numbers.

In some cases, youngsters of just seven years of age have developed Type 2 Diabetes. This is widely considered to be caused by lifestyle changes that have occurred over the last few years which mean that today’s youngsters are far less active than those of previous generations.

What is the Cost of Diabetes?

In the US, the cost of diabetes is estimated to be around $245 billion a year, this figure includes medical costs and lost productivity. People with diabetes spend around $7,900 per year on diabetes related healthcare, and the cost of treating diagnosed diabetics accounts for more than 20% of all health care expenditure.

In America, some 86 million adults are estimated to suffer from pre-diabetes which is about a third of the population, so there is a good chance that these figures will continue to rise in the foreseeable future.

What Can be Done?Woman On Bicycle

Diabetes is a condition which leaves the body unable to regulate blood glucose. Most of the food we consume is ultimately turned into glucose by our bodies to use. The pancreas makes your body’s insulin which is used to help the glucose derived from food get into the body’s cells providing fuel. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or your cells no longer react to insulin. The result is sugar build-up in the blood stream.

Not only is regular exercise a great way to lower your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, it can also help people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes to manage their blood glucose levels. Exercise makes the body’s cells more receptive to insulin, increasing the absorption rate of glucose. Exercise also triggers another mechanism that allows glucose to be absorbed regardless of whether insulin is available.

Anyone with a body mass index of 30 or more should try to regulate their weight gain through a combination of diet and exercise. In particular, people who hold fat across their abdomens are at high risk. Abdominal fat can release pro-inflammatory chemicals that make the body less receptive to insulin, and this insulin resistance is a known trigger for Type 2 Diabetes. By taking preventative steps such as a healthier diet, taking regular exercise, and losing weight you can decrease the risk of developing this lifelong condition.