Most people know that diabetes is a major public health issue in the United States, but the scope of the problem is almost unfathomable. A quarter of the 1 in 11 Americans (29.1 million) who have diabetes don’t know that they have it.
What’s more, those who are pre-diabetic, where blood sugar is too high but not yet in the diabetes range, are also often in the dark — even though that risky period can be a crucial time to turn things around before diabetes takes hold. While pre-diabetes affects 86 million American adults (1 in 3), 9 out of 10 don’t know they have it.
“These new numbers are alarming,” said Ann Albright, PhD, of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “If these numbers continue to rise, 1 in 5 people could have diabetes by the year 2025, and it could be 1 in 3 people by the year 2050.”
Diabetes is most prevalent in Mississippi, West Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia, but common all across the country and among all ethnic and racial groups.
Pre-diabetes may sound like a made-up problem, but it’s far from harmless. “Without intervention, prediabetes is likely to become type 2 diabetes in 10 years or less,” the Mayo Clinic cautions. “And, if you have prediabetes, the long-term damage of diabetes — especially to your heart and circulatory system — may already be starting.” Pre-diabetes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, even if it does not develop into diabetes.
The good news is that pre-diabetes does not have to be permanent. Exercise and healthy eating cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in half.
Here’s a look at pre-diabetes in the U.S., from an infographic released Tuesday by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention:
And here’s a look at what happens when pre-diabetes turns into diabetes:
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