The Elephant in the Room: Prediabetes and What You Need to Know About It

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by Lindsay Maurer EP, LMT, CKTP

DPPgroupImagine you’ve just been to your doctor for your annual physical and he or she tells you that you have prediabetes.  Don’t let the “pre” in prediabetes fool you into thinking it’s not really a problem now.  Eighty-six million Americans have prediabetes—that’s 1 out of 3 adults! Of those 86 million, 9 out of 10 of them don’t even know they have it.  Without intervention, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.  With numbers like that, it’s important to learn about prediabetes and take action. 

What is Prediabetes?

According to the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program:

Having prediabetes means your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but necessarily high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes. Luckily, prediabetes can often be reversed with lifestyle modification.

If you have these risk factors, you may be at higher risk than others for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes:

  • You are overweight.
  • You are 45 years of age or older.
  • Your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
  • You are physically active fewer than 3 times per week.
  • You ever gave birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds.
  • You ever had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes).

You can take action right away to help prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes. You can also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke associated with prediabetes.

Many people with prediabetes who do not change their lifestyle by losing weight (if needed) and being more physically active will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

In addition, some of the risk factors can make you feel sluggish and affect your mood. Positive lifestyle changes not only lower your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, but they can also improve your overall well-being and the well-being of your family.

How Do I Make a Change: The National Diabetes Prevention Program243d2ad3-b365-4d8d-b0cf-71841a3373dd

There are many ways you can reverse prediabetes.  You can join a gym, hire a personal trainer, visit with a registered dietician, or you can seek out a prevention program.

The Mesa County Health Department is now a qualified location for the National Diabetes Prevention Program.  This program is proven to help people who have been diagnosed with prediabetes cut their chance of developing type 2 diabetes by over 50%. It consists of:

  • CDC-approved curriculum with lessons, handouts, and other resources to help you make healthy changes.
  • A lifestyle coach, specially trained to lead the program, to help you learn new skills, encourage you to set and meet goals, and keep you motivated. The coach will also facilitate discussions and help make the program fun and engaging.
  • A support group of people with similar goals and challenges. Together, you can share ideas, celebrate successes, and work to overcome obstacles.

During the first half of the program, you will learn to:  

  • Eat healthy without giving up all the foods you love
  • Add physical activity to your life, even if you don’t think you have time
  • Deal with stress
  • Cope with challenges that can derail your hard work
  • Get back on track if you stray from your plan

In the second half of the program, you will enhance the skills you’ve learned so you can maintain the changes you’ve made. These sessions will review key ideas such as tracking your food and physical activity, setting goals, staying motivated, and overcoming barriers. You may learn some new information, too. The lifestyle coach and small group will continue to support you.

How do I sign up for the Diabetes Prevention Program?

There are locations throughout the Grand Valley that will be offering this FREE program in 2016.  On Thursday, February 18 there will be an information session at the Grand Valley Wellness Center (located in the Grand Valley Primary Care complex at 605 B 28 ¼ Road) at 4:30 pm. Classes will start on Thursday, March 3rd at 5 pm – please arrive early for weigh in.  For more information and to enroll, please contact the Mesa County Health Department at (970) 248-6900 or dpp@mesacounty.us

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