Assess your risk for diabetes on March 23

Linda F. Benedict, Reames, Elizabeth S.

News Release Distributed 03/09/10

Tuesday, March 23, is American Diabetes Alert Day, an annual event sponsored by the American Diabetes Association to call attention to the risk of developing this disease.

Beth Reames, LSU AgCenter extension nutritionist, wants people to be aware of their eating habits and how they can affect the chance for developing diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, which is being increasingly diagnosed in children and teens.

About 10 percent of Louisiana residents have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician, she says. Nearly 24 million Americans live with diabetes and an additional 57 million, or one in five, are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes affects the body's ability to produce or respond properly to insulin, a hormone that allows blood glucose (sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. There are three types – type 1, type 2 and gestational.

Type 1 diabetes occurs because cells in the pancreas can't make insulin, Reames says. Type 1 makes up nearly 10 percent of all diabetes cases and used to be called insulin-dependent diabetes and juvenile diabetes. Type 1 diabetes can't be prevented and is treated with insulin by injection or pump.

Type 2 diabetes occurs because the pancreas can’t make enough insulin or the body can’t use insulin properly. Type 2 used to be called adult-onset diabetes and noninsulin-dependent diabetes and makes up nearly 95 percent of all diabetes cases. Type 2 may possibly be prevented or delayed with a healthful lifestyle.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight, under active (living a sedentary lifestyle) and over the age of 45. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and people who have a family history of the disease are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, Reames says.

Type 1 diabetes usually is recognized and treated quickly, but for many people with type 2 diabetes, diagnosis may come seven to 10 years after the onset of the disease. To start treatment and delay or prevent some of the complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death, early diagnosis is critical.

Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be delayed and even prevented by making lifestyle changes.

Gestational diabetes is a condition in which high blood sugar (glucose) levels are first recognized during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs in approximately four percent of all pregnancies.

Healthy eating is important for managing diabetes. Here are some tips:

– Eat lots of vegetables and fruits.

– Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products. Try brown rice with stir fry or whole wheat spaghetti with pasta sauce.

– Include dried beans (like kidney or pinto beans) and lentils in meals.

– Include fish in meals two to three times a week.

– Choose lean meats like cuts of beef and pork that end in loin such as pork loin and sirloin. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.

– Choose nonfat dairy such as skim milk, nonfat yogurt and nonfat cheese.

– Choose water and calorie-free drinks instead of regular soda, fruit punch, sweet tea and other sugar-sweetened drinks.

– Choose liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats that can be high in saturated and trans fats. Remember that fats are high in calories. If you're trying to lose weight, watch your portion sizes of added fats.

– Cut back on high calorie snack foods and desserts like chips, cookies, cakes and ice cream.

– Eating too much of even healthful foods can lead to weight gain. Watch portion sizes.

The LSU AgCenter’s Smart Portions Healthy Weight Program provides information on healthful eating, physical activity recommendations and lifestyle habits. For information about this program or about eating healthfully, contact the nearest LSU AgCenter extension office or go to and search for Smart Portions.

To test to find out more about the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, go to the American Diabetes Association Web site at or call 1-888-DIABETES (342-2383).

Editor: Linda Foster Benedict
1/4/2011 1:07:29 AM
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