Gov. urges frequent diabetes testing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 5, 2003

To stem a rising tide of diabetes, the federal government is now urging overweight Americans to get tested for diabetic symptoms at least once every three years.

The explosion of type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes that has occurred within the last few decades is closely associated with the mounting levels of obesity in the United States.

&uot;Type 2 diabetes is associated with lifestyle,&uot; says Dr. Robert Keith, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System nutritionist. &uot;If you are obese with excess body fat around the abdominal region, you are pushing the limit, because you’re increasing your risk of developing this disease,&uot; he adds. &uot;And the risk is even greater if you have a family history of diabetes.&uot;

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The new federal guidelines recommend testing for anyone 44 or older who is overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher. Doctors also recommend that people ages 44 and older who have no risk factors, as well as overweight younger people with at least one risk factor, should be monitored at least every couple of years for possible diabetes.

The good news is that full-blown diabetes can be avoided through weight loss and exercise. Even minimal weight loss and exercise can reduce risk. Indeed, studies have shown moderate weight loss, coupled with exercise, can dramatically reduce the chances of developing diabetes – as much as 58 percent..

Millions of Americans assume type 2 diabetes is less severe than type 1 diabetes associated with adolescents. However, type 2 diabetes can be every bit as devastating as type 1, the only difference being that it occurs later in life.

We’ll be doing blood sugar testing at the FitFest program at the YMCA next Wednesday, March 5. You’ll need to come early, between 7:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Results are more accurate if you don’t eat anything after midnight the night before. You’ll have a chance to join the low-impact aerobics class at 8:15 to see if that type of exercise might be right for you. It’s all free and you don’t need to pre-register. Call me at 382-5111 if you have questions.