You may think that diabetes is just a disease that affects your parents or grandparents, but keep this in mind: According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), two million adolescents (or one in six overweight adolescents) aged 12-19 have pre-diabetes, a precursor condition to one of the most prevalent medical conditions affecting our country.
November is not just a season where we celebrate Thanksgiving, but also it is a month in which we educate ourselves and each other about diabetes through American Diabetes Month.
Years ago when most of us encountered a young person with diabetes, he or she was most likely to have type 1 diabetes, a specific category of the condition that is caused by a defect in the immune system.
But as being obese has increased in record numbers in the past few decades, we are seeing more and more younger adults, even children, being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a kind of diabetes that is strongly associated with being overweight. In the past 20 years, there has been a 25 percent increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes as a result of the increase in the excess weight millions of Americans are now carrying around.
So before you write off that freshman 15 as a diet you’ll start tomorrow or after the New Year, arm yourself with the correct lifestyle behaviors now to reduce your risk of diabetes and protect your health for years to come.
Here are five ways to reduce your risk from developing diabetes:
1. Eat a healthy diet full of vegetables, fruit, lean proteins and whole grains. Avoid foods that are processed, fried and high in sugar and fat.
2. Engage in daily exercise or at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
3. Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI).
4. Get screened, particularly if you have a family history of diabetes.
5. Monitor portion control and when you do indulge in your favorite foods, do so wisely.
Even though the prevalence of diabetes has been increasing in younger generations, it is a disease that can be prevented or at least delayed by making small lifestyle changes to your diet and exercise habits, every day.
Your health and future are worth it.