Don’t Snooze on this Diabetes Wake-Up Call

Diego Ponieman, M.D., M.P.H.

By: Diego Ponieman, M.D. M.P.H.

We’re all guilty of pressing the snooze button – even on days when we know we shouldn’t. And while there are plenty of days that its ok to hit snooze, today – Diabetes Alert Day – is not one of them.

New York City health officials have declared diabetes an epidemic. Diabetes disproportionately affects black and Latino New Yorkers, as well as those living in low income households, where prevalence of the disease in some communities is double that of the rest of the population. As a neighborhood physician, I can tell you it is never a good time to sleep through the warning signs of diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test, a free anonymous test available here, is a fast, easy online way to see if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes. Since nearly one in three of those with diabetes are undiagnosed, it is important to understand if you are at risk.

One of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes is lifestyle; if you find that you’re at risk, you should talk with your Primary Care Physician who can test you for diabetes and discuss lifestyle changes you can make to avoid prediabetes or diabetes.

The most common form of diabetes, type 2, occurs when the body does not use insulin properly and the individual’s blood glucose (sugar) levels become too high.

Prediabetes is a condition characterized by increased blood glucose levels that indicate a risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Only 11.1 percent of the population with prediabetes is aware of their status.

The link between obesity and diabetes means that individuals living in neighborhoods with fewer healthy food options, in many cases minorities and lower-income individuals, are even more at risk. Statistically, type 2 diabetes is more common among African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans – some of the communities that Advocate Community Providers (ACP) serves.

Diabetes Alert Day is all about awareness. Neighborhood physicians in the ACP Network are working hard to make sure patients with diabetes have the tools, resources and knowledge to manage their disease and overall health. That’s why ACP has adopted the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension nutrition plan – which emphasizes eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, while limiting salt and sugar – and tailored it to fit the needs and preferences of all individuals, whether they’re working with a tight budget for groceries, cooking more culturally traditional meals, or looking for healthy snacking options.

Here are two quick steps you can take today toward greater awareness and better health:

  • Make an appointment with your Primary Care Provider for an annual check-up. Consistent preventive care is the best way to stay healthy!
  • Visit ACP’s DASH website for great tips on making healthier food choices for you and your family. Diet and exercise is critical for diabetes prevention and treatment.