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Dietitians Dish: Know risks, symptoms of diabetes

March 22, 2010 at midnight
Updated March 22, 2010 at 10:23 p.m.


By Elizabeth Sommerfeld

Did you know March 23 was Diabetes Alert Day? This is a one-day event sponsored by the American Diabetes Association to draw awareness to the seriousness of diabetes.

Almost 24 million Americans live with diabetes and an additional 57 million, or one in five, are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is not always diagnosed as soon as it develops. For many, diagnosis does not occur until seven to 10 years after first developing the disease. Knowing your risk factors can help you to become aware of the signs and symptoms, and to receive the proper treatment. Long-term problems, after all, include stroke, blindness, amputations, heart disease, kidney disease and even death.

To learn risk factors and to take the Diabetes Risk Factor test you can:

Visit stopdiabetes.com, where you can join the movement to Stop Diabetes, take the Diabetes Risk test, learn secrets to stop diabetes, and easily share these tools and resources with your loved ones.

Take the Diabetes Risk Test. This can be done on-line, or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).

Some people can avoid taking medications by losing weight and changing their eating patterns. A 10 percent weight loss has been shown to reduce risk factors for diabetes, as well as other health conditions. So, if you weigh 220 pounds, a weight loss of 22 pounds can prevent you from developing a multitude of diseases.

If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, getting education can be the best thing you can do for your health. A Certified Diabetes Educator can help you to learn about the disease, as well as medications you may be taking, managing sick days, how to check your blood sugar and recommended levels for good blood sugar control.

Certified Diabetes Educators can be nurses, pharmacists, dietitians and even doctors. Registered Dietitians can help you learn what foods effect your blood sugars and ways to improve your diet. Check for diabetes education classes and support groups at your local hospitals or public health center, they could help save your life.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld is a registered and licensed dietitian and has a master of science degree. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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