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Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes?

March 19, 2015

SPRINGFIELD – For 26 years, Americans have been taking the “Diabetes Risk Test” each March on Diabetes Alert Day, which is set this year for March 24 and continues its campaign through April 21.

This year’s test – part of the American Diabetes Association’s efforts to help millions of Americans learn if they are at risk for type 2 diabetes – comes on the heels of another “alert.”

On March 12 – with more than 86 million Americans living with pre-diabetes and nearly 90 percent of them unaware of it – the American Medical Association (AMA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they were joining forces to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Through their new initiative, Prevent Diabetes STAT, the AMA and CDC are sounding an alarm and shining a light on pre-diabetes as a crisis and serious medical condition.

Last March, 33,000 people took the risk test on Alert Day and throughout the campaign lasting into April, over 118,000 took the test with 37 percent of them being at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

“This is one test that you shouldn’t be afraid to take. It doesn’t hurt and all you need to do is answer some questions online. And, the results are immediate,” said Dr. Chelsea Gordner, an adult and pediatric endocrinologist at Baystate Medical Center/Baystate Children’s Hospital.

When taking the online test, participants will be asked about their weight, age, family history and other risk factors for developing pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

“If you do ‘pass’ the test and learn you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, then you are one of the lucky ones who can do something about it before it’s too late,” said Dr. Gordner.

Visit diabetes.org/takeitshareit to take the Diabetes Risk Test and learn if you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Risk factors include being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, age – over 45, and a family history of diabetes. Also, African Americans and Hispanics are more at risk for the disease.

However, by modifying your risk factors, you can help delay or prevent some of the serious complications of diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney damage and limb amputations.

Diabetes isn’t just a disease for adults. Each year, more than 13,000 youngsters are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. However, more children today are being increasingly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

“The increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes in youth is clearly linked to their being overweight or obese. The same risk factors for type 2 diabetes that exist for adults, also exist for kids. What makes matters worse is that treatment options for children are fewer than what is available for adults (metformin and insulin only), and that they are more likely to not respond as well to oral medication alone,” said pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Rushika Conroy of Baystate Children’s Hospital.

“The other diseases that an adult can develop from years of poorly controlled type 2 diabetes can also develop in children and adolescents in the same amount of time, suggesting that this may be the first generation of children who do not outlive their parents,” she added.

Prevention of type 2 diabetes in youth is no different than it is for adults – involving lifestyle modifications such as increasing daily activity; reducing the intake of calorically-dense, nutrient-poor foods; and increasing the consumption of nutrient-rich foods.

For an appointment with a physician specializing in adult diabetes, call Baystate Endocrinology and Diabetes at 413-794-7031, or for children, call Baystate Children’s Hospital at 413-794-0813.

Additional information is available at baystatehealth.org/diabetes.