There are 25.8 million children and adults in the United States (8.3 percent of the population) that have diabetes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet). Seven million people have diabetes but do not know it. Another 79 million people have pre-diabetes. One in three people is at risk for diabetes. Wow, that’s a lot of people, especially in the undiagnosed category.
The older you are the higher your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. At the age of 45, 13.7 percent have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. The percentage increases to 26.9 percent at age 65.
Racial and ethnic differences have been identified. The risk of diagnosed diabetes is higher among Asian Americans, Hispanics and African Americans. There is also a higher prevalence for Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans.
Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes may be autoimmune, genetic or environmental. Eating a lot of sugar is not a risk factor (hooray!!). My grandmother and great grandmother had Type 2 diabetes, but this does not increase risk for Type 1. A family history of a parent or sibling with Type 1 diabetes does increase risk. Other possible risk factors include viral exposure, lack of early vitamin D, and other dietary factors. There is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, but research on prevention is underway.
Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent with older age, obesity, family history, prior gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity. Though Type 2 is infrequent in children, being overweight and inactive may cause Type 2 in children. Type 2 is frequent in children among American Indians, African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans and Asians/Pacific Islanders.
Men are more likely to be undiagnosed. This is not surprising as men tend to visit their doctor less than women. Having high blood pressure also increases your chances of developing Type 2.
While you cannot prevent Type 1 diabetes, you can take action to potentially avoid Type 2. Join the Stop Diabetes® movement by taking the American Diabetes Association Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test or visit Facebook, and discuss the results with your doctor.