More than 5.8 million Floridians, or almost 40% of the population, live with a potentially life-altering condition. Yet, many of them are unaware they even have it. That condition is prediabetes, which in up to 70% of cases develops into diabetes. Those with prediabetes have blood glucose levers higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
In all, more than 2.3 million Florida adults have been diagnosed with diabetes. Of these, almost 580,000 have diabetes and don’t know it, greatly increasing their health risk.
Dr. Donna O’Shea, Chief Medical Officer of Population Health at UnitedHealthcare, says taking steps to avoid or more effectively manage this condition should be a priority for people of all ages. She offers this important information to consider:
Diabetes in children: While type 1 diabetes was historically known as juvenile diabetes, that term is no longer truly applicable due to the surging prevalence of type 2 diabetes among children. To help young people reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, make activity a priority. Whenever possible, go for a 15-minute walk after meals, which can help the body move sugar from the blood into the muscle cells to help avoid blood sugar spikes.
Diabetes in adults: The number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled during the last two decades. Living with prediabetes, being overweight, not getting enough physical exercise, and being over age 45 all put people at greater risk of development type 2 diabetes. For working-age adults with this condition, it’s critical to consistently track blood sugar levels, ideally with a continuous glucose monitor. In fact, a growing number of health plans are starting to cover this type of technology, which uses a sensor, often worn on the abdomen, to continuously read glucose levels and transmit the data to a smartphone.
Diabetes in older adults: Nearly 30% of adults 65 and older live with diabetes, which increases the risk for certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. Staying active and eating a balanced diet is crucial, including a focus on consuming healthy proteins (chicken, fish or turkey), non-starchy fibrous vegetables (broccoli, green beans or carrots), and a moderate amount of carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potato or whole-grain breads or pastas). Interval eating may also be a strategy to consider, including waiting at least an hour after waking up to eat breakfast and avoiding food within three hours of sleep.
For many people, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable with lifestyle modifications, such as a nutritious diet, consistent exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Understanding your risk factors and staying on top of your health – starting during childhood and as you age – may help you prevent or better manage type 2 diabetes.