Dr. Tony Kuo (UCLA)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 10 Americans has diabetes, and of that group, one in five of them do not know that they do. In California, about 46% of adults are estimated to have prediabetes or undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

In Los Angeles County, 1 out of 10 adults has type 2 diabetes, which is the 8th leading cause of death in the US. African Americans have a higher risk of developing this disease compared to Whites.

“One of the biggest risk factors for type 2 diabetes is obesity, and some of the complications of the disease are heart disease, stroke, and nerve cell damage,” said Dr. Tony Kuo, adjunct professor of Epidemiology in the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Fielding School of Public Health, Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and the Director of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention in Los Angeles County’s public health department. He is a public sector executive and physician who has worked with the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

“Lifestyle changes are, in many ways, your first-line management options for diabetes, as they can help with weight loss, stress management, and use regular exercise to help control the condition. The National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is a partnership of public and private organizations working to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes through lifestyle changes and peer support. It is an evidence-based lifestyle change program designed for people at risk for diabetes or has risk factors for this disease,” he said.

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With diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or cannot use it as well as it should. When there is not enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, diabetes can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. There is no cure for diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can help. Other actions include taking medication as prescribed, receiving diabetes self-management education and support, and being consistent with your medical appointments.

“Diabetes management is a continuum of needs and care. Professionals like Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (DCES) are licensed and certified Registered Nurses (RN) and Registered Dieticians (RD) who can help patients by providing on-going, evidence-based education and support. They are very smart people,” Kuo said.

According to a report by The Center for Advancing Health (CFAH), Type 2 diabetes can also start at any age.

“Although type 1 diabetes is not as common as type 2, it can still happen to young people. Lifestyle choices, diet lower in sugar and carbohydrates, and avoidance of a sedentary lifestyle can still help people with type 1 diabetes,” said Kuo.

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“Playing sports is beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. And people should talk to their doctor about affordable, generic medications for managing diabetes, when these therapies are appropriate for their care. Prevention remains the key to ensuring a healthier future for everyone, especially our kids.”

And this from President Joe Biden’s Proclamation on National Diabetes Month 2023 from the White House Briefing Room:

“While we keep working to make diabetes medications more affordable, my Administration is also focused on prevention, early interventions, improving treatments, and finding a cure.

“Diabetes is a leading cause of death in the United States, and once diagnosed, increases one’s risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and loss of toes, feet, or legs. It is important to be aware of diabetes risk factors, many of which relate to nutrition and physical activity deficits.”

To learn more about risk factors and how to combat prediabetes, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Diabetes Prevention Program:  https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/index.html.