Did you know that 1 in 10 Americans are diagnosed with diabetes? There are 84 million people in the U.S. at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. November is National Diabetes Month, a time to raise awareness about the risk factors that can lead to diabetes and help people live a healthy lifestyle so they don’t develop type 2 diabetes.
According to the CDC’s 2020 National Diabetes Statistics Report, the highest percentage of new cases of adults with diabetes was among the American Indian/Alaska Native population. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in this group is as high as 60%.
A new study by the Indian Health Service shows a decrease in diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives. According to a report by Michael D. Weahkee, IHS director, the number of American Indian/Alaska Natives diagnosed with diabetes decreased significantly from 2013 to 2017. This is a positive sign for this community, and IHS will continue to push diabetes prevention and treatment in Indian Country.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. The food that you consume is broken down into sugar (glucose) and released into your bloodstream. The increased sugar in your blood alerts the pancreas to release insulin, which helps the blood sugar turn into energy. But when your pancreas does not make enough insulin or stops responding to your body’s signals, the sugar stays in the blood and your blood sugar levels increase. Over time this can damage your body by leading to kidney disease, amputation, vision loss and heart disease.
There are three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction which completely stops your body from making insulin; children, teens and young adults are usually diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and will need to take insulin every day to survive. Type 2 diabetes can be developed over time and is often diagnosed in adults, but more children, teens and young adults are developing type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women and can cause the baby to be at high risk for health problems. Both mother and child are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the future.
If you have diabetes or think you may be prediabetic, contact your doctor. There are plenty of steps you can take to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and learn how to manage it. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has a number of programs to help Community members learn how to eat well, get active and manage their blood sugar. To learn more about diabetes, call Diabetes Prevention Services at (480) 362-7320.