Prevent Type 2 Diabetes on Alert Day and Beyond
By: Charlotte Caldwell
TRICARE Management Activity
March 26 is American Diabetes Alert Day. It is a reminder to millions of Americans that diabetes is a serious, life threatening disease, but one that people can prevent or control to reduce its negative health effects.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one in nine adults have Type 2 diabetes and one in three is prediabetic, meaning their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. However, they are at higher risk for developing diabetes. If current trends continue, by 2050 it is estimated more than 30 percent of American adults will be diabetic.
A healthy diet and active lifestyle are two ways to reduce the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes and manage the condition. In fact, a person who is considered prediabetic, may be able to avoid developing Type 2 diabetes by eating right and being active. Diet and exercise are key activities that can help someone avoid two of the major preventable risk factors for diabetes: obesity and high blood pressure.
A person’s ethnicity and family history can also increase their risk of developing diabetes. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans are all at higher risk of developing diabetes. Having a diabetic family member also puts someone at risk.
The CDC recommends diabetes screenings for anyone who is older than 45, especially if they are overweight. Those younger than 45, but who are overweight and have one or more additional risk factors should also consider getting screened for diabetes. TRICARE beneficiaries are covered for type 2 diabetes screenings and should talk with their doctor if they are considered at risk.
Learning to manage diabetes is important. Mismanagement of diabetes can result in serious complications and damage to vital organs such as the eyes and kidneys, as well as nerves, heart and blood vessels. CDC research also shows that diabetics and prediabetics are at a higher risk for serious health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. When diabetes can’t be prevented with weight loss and diet modification, prescription drugs can regulate blood sugar levels.
TRICARE also covers outpatient diabetes self-management and training programs to help beneficiaries learn to properly manage their diabetes. More information about the programs is available through regional contractors. Go to www.tricare.mil/contactus to find the website and telephone number for each regional contractor.
For more information on preventing diabetes, or managing the disease, visit the CDC online resource center at www.CDC.gov/diabetes.
For more information on TRICARE coverage of diabetes go to www.tricare.mil.