It is important to know your risk for diabetes because diabetes can affect anyone. Unfortunately, almost six million Americans have diabetes and do not even know it. Your risk for diabetes goes up as you get older, gain too much weight, or if you do not stay active.
Diabetes is more common in African Americans, American Indians, Asian-Americans Pacific Islanders and Latinos. In fact, Latinos are almost twice as likely as the general population to have diabetes. Unfortunately, out of the two million Latinos who have diabetes, an estimated one third of them have not been diagnosed. This fact is troubling because uncontrolled diabetes can lead to complications such as blindness, heart problems, amputations and kidney damage.
To find out if you are at risk for diabetes, you can take a quick and simple test by visiting the ADA’s web site at www.diabetes.org/risktest. The American Diabetes Association continues its commitment toward reaching the Latino community through patient and professional education, public awareness and community outreach programs such as Diabetes Assistance & Resources (DAR). This ADA program targets the Latino community by providing English and Spanish-language materials about diabetes. The ADA area offices located throughout the United States staff committees consisting of volunteers who promote the DAR program within their communities. Besides disseminating bilingual information, they also organize special events designed for the Hispanic community, like “Feria de Salud”, a diabetes health fair organized to reach Latinos in an educational and festive setting. The ADA’s web site has a link on its home page to view information available in Spanish. Plus, you can call a toll-free number (1-800-DIABETES) the ADA offers to obtain free information from bilingual representatives. The Association also offers a catalog with recipe books, educational books on diabetes and general information about diabetes. All of these materials are geared both to individuals who think they may be at risk for diabetes and those who have been diagnosed with diabetes. If you take the time to find out more about diabetes and what you can do to prevent it, delay its onset and control it once diagnosed you can lead a healthier and happier life. You can also support family members with diabetes by joining them in their efforts to exercise and eat healthier and by sharing what you have learned about the disease.
Risk factors for diabetes include:
- Having high blood pressure (at or above 130/80)
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Having diabetes during pregnancy or having a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth.
Latinos are not the only ethnic group commonly affected by diabetes:
- African Americans are also two times as likely to have type 2 diabetes as the general population.
- The overall prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Native Americans is 15.1 percent.