Most realize type 2 diabetes is largely preventable

November is National Diabetes Month

Though most of the country’s stats on diabetes aren’t good, at least one of them is. A majority of Americans recognize the threat diabetes poses to the nation’s health and have a solid understanding about the disease and its consequences, according to a new survey from UnitedHealth Group.

The survey of about 1,000 adults throughout the country found that almost all respondents (92 percent) know there’s a difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and 82 percent recognize type 2 diabetes is largely preventable.

The majority also are familiar with leading diabetes risk factors including: being overweight (80 percent), a family history of diabetes (76 percent), lack of exercise (74 percent), high blood pressure (59 percent), high cholesterol (58 percent), and being age 45 or older (48 percent). Additionally, 85 percent have had their blood sugar level tested and know the result.

Research shows lifestyle changes and a 5 percent to 7 percent weight reduction can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent in people with prediabetes.

The results help to kick off National Diabetes Month, which runs throughout November. Health officials say it’s an opportunity for people to turn awareness into action and play a part in helping to tackle the epidemic, which is taking a toll on the health and financial well-being of individuals, families, communities, businesses and the nation’s health system.

“People are taking notice that we face a public health crisis in the form of obesity, prediabetes and diabetes, so the opportunity now exists to turn awareness into actions like eating healthier, increasing physical activity, being tested for risk factors or joining prevention programs,” says Deneen Vojta, senior vice president of UnitedHealth Group and chief clinical officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance.

“Our national conversation around the diabetes epidemic has entered a new era; it’s time national actions do the same.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 26 million American adults with diabetes. More than 90 percent of them suffer from type 2 diabetes, the often preventable form of the disease. About 35 percent of the U.S. adult population has prediabetes, putting 79 million Americans at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization research shows that more than half of all Americans will have diabetes or prediabetes by the end of this decade.

“By 2021, about 40 million American adults will have diabetes and another 100 million will be diagnosed with prediabetes—at a cost of $3.5 trillion over the next decade,” says Tom Beauregard, executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group and executive director of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization. “Given these figures, it’s clear there is a diabetes time bomb ticking in America, due in large part to the escalating obesity rates in our country. Practical steps can be taken, however, to defuse this time bomb.”

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