The number of people in the U.S. with diabetes is on the rise. The American Diabetes Association reports that in 2012, 29.1 million Americans have the disease. That is 9.3% percent of the population.

People with diabetes have a greater risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and other health problems.

But there is good news. Diabetes can be managed or even prevented. Follow the links below to learn more.

There are four types of diabetes:

  • Type 1: People with type 1 can’t produce insulin. Insulin helps the body use glucose (sugar) for fuel. This type is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. It used to be known as juvenile diabetes.
  • Type 2: Type 2 results from the body’s inability to process insulin. If the glucose can’t go to the cells, it builds in the blood. This is why blood glucose levels are used to diagnose diabetes. Insulin is required for glucose to enter cells.
  • Pre-diabetes: In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes occurs when blood glucose levels are high, but not high enough to be labeled diabetes. If you don’t do something about it, pre-diabetes leads to Type 2.
  • Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when a woman who has never had diabetes has high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

Source: American Diabetes Association


Having diabetes should not prevent you from enjoying a wide variety of foods. You can learn how to eat healthful meals and include your favorite foods. Balancing what you eat and your physical activity are key to managing diabetes.

Understanding how much and what type of carbohydrate foods you should eat is important for managing diabetes. The balance between how much insulin is in your body and the carbohydrates you eat make a difference in your blood glucose levels.

There are three main types of carbohydrates in food: Starches, Sugars and Fiber. The term “total carbohydrate” on nutrition labels will include all three types of carbohydrates. This is the number you should pay attention to if you are counting carbohydrates.  How much carbohydrate you eat is very individual. Finding the right amount of carbohydrate depends on many things including how active you are and what, if any, medications you take. Finding the balance for yourself is important so you can feel your best, do the things you enjoy, and lower your risk of diabetes complications. You and your doctor can figure out the right amount for you.

Source: American Diabetes Association

Physical activity is important for all of us. For people with diabetes or those trying to prevent it, keeping active is very important.

Here are some of the benefits of regular physical activity:

  • Lowers blood glucose and improves your A1C. One way it does this is by making your body more sensitive to the insulin you make. Exercise also burns glucose (calories). This helps you lose weight and that can reduce how much diabetes medication you have to take.
  • Lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Strengthens your heart and improves your blood circulation

Source: American Diabetes Association 

Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes are generally related to family history and genetics. There are many more risk factors for Type 2.

Risk factors that you cannot control: age, race, gender and family history. But there are several risk factoers that you can control. These include:

  • Being overweight
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels: LDL, HDL, and triglycerides
  • High blood pressure
  • Low activity level
  • Smoking

Source: American Diabetes Association

Testing to detect Type 2 diabetes in people without symptoms should be considered in adults of any age who are overweight or obese and who have one or more additional risk factors for diabetes. For all people, especially those who are overweight, testing should begin at age 45 and repeated at a minimum of every 3 years.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss (Type 1)
  • Increased fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet (Type 2)

Source: American Diabetes Association

If you have diabetes, remember ABCDEF.

  1. A1C test. This is a measure of average glucose. Most people with diabetes should get an A1C test at least twice a year. It measures how well the blood sugar has been controlled over the past two to three months.
  2. Blood pressure. High blood pressure makes the heart work too hard and can cause damage to the kidneys and eyes. Have your blood pressure checked at each visit with your doctor.
  3. Cholesterol. Bad cholesterol, or LDL, can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. In general, the lower your LDL the better. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have your cholesterol checked. 
  4. Daily care. Make sure you follow your diet, try to be active every day and check your blood sugar, especially if you take insulin.
  5. Eye care. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness. Have a retinal eye exam every year.
  6. Feet. Check your feet every day for sores or blisters. Take your shoes and socks off when you see your doctor. Do not stop taking any medicines without checking with your doctor first.

Source: American Diabetes Association