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November 14 is World Diabetes Day

Posted on by Ann Albright, PhD, RD, Director, CDC Division of Diabetes Translation


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Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and there are 371 million people living with diabetes worldwide. Another 280 million are at high risk of developing the disease. By 2030, half a billion people are expected to be living with diabetes. (See About World Diabetes Day.)

Ann Albright, PhD, RD, Director, CDC Division of Diabetes Translation
Ann Albright, PhD, RD, Director, CDC Division of Diabetes Translation

The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. Making modest lifestyle changes today can help protect the future health of you and your family.

In addition to a variety of other diabetes awareness efforts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation (DDT) recognizes November 14 as World Diabetes Day. Through education and prevention, CDC supports this diabetes global awareness campaign.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes glucose (sugar) to build up in your blood.  Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.

What are the types of diabetes?

  • Type 1 diabetes, which was previously called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile-onset diabetes, may account for about 5 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
  • Type 2 diabetes, which was previously called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes, may account for about 90–95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. If not treated, it can cause problems for mothers and babies. Gestational diabetes develops in 2–10 percent of all pregnancies but usually disappears when a pregnancy is over.
  • Other specific types of diabetes resulting from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, drugs, malnutrition, infections, and other illnesses may account for 1–5 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

Prediabetes is an elevated blood glucose level that is not quite high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, but is higher than normal. One in three American adults has prediabetes, and most do not even know they have it. Many people with prediabetes who do not lose weight or do moderate physical activity will develop type 2 diabetes within 3 years.

Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

You are at increased risk for developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes if you:

  • are 45 years of age or older.
  • are overweight.
  • have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
  • are physically active fewer than three times per week.
  • ever gave birth to a baby that weighed more than 9 pounds.
  • ever had diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes).

What Can You Do?

A number of studies have shown that people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes can significantly reduce their risk of developing the disease by making modest lifestyle changes including:

  • Losing 5–7 percent of your body weight.
  • Getting 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
  • Eating a balanced diet, including fruits and vegetables.

Researchers are making progress in identifying the exact genetics and “triggers” that predispose some individuals to develop type 1 diabetes, but prevention remains elusive.

Using CDC resources, you can prevent complications, disabilities, and the burden associated with diabetes in your local communities.

CDC is dedicated to reducing the preventable burden of diabetes through public health leadership, partnership, research, programs, and policies that translate science into practice. CDC also provides technical assistance in developing surveillance activities, raising awareness about the economic cost of diabetes and other chronic diseases in a number of countries.  On this World Diabetes Day, we are re-committed to a world free of the devastation of diabetes.

Posted on by Ann Albright, PhD, RD, Director, CDC Division of Diabetes Translation

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