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updated: 10/31/2012 2:05 PM

Defeat diabetes with these healthy practices

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David Hass

DUPAGE COUNTY--In recognition of American Diabetes Month in November, the DuPage County Health Department urges County residents to eat healthy, stay physically active and quit smoking to help lower their risk of diabetes.

With nearly 26 million children and adults living with diabetes, and another 79 million at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the disease is taking a devastating physical, emotional and financial toll on America. Yet, most Americans don't know the extent of diabetes.

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Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin. Certain populations are at a higher risk for developing diabetes. Some people at a higher risk for developing diabetes include:

• People over age 45

• People with a family history of diabetes

• People who are overweight

• People who do not exercise regularly

• People with low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides, high blood pressure

• Certain racial and ethnic groups (e.g., Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives)

• Women who had gestational diabetes, or who have had a baby weighing nine pounds or more at birth

While there is still no cure for diabetes, there is good news: the progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes is not inevitable. An aggressive state and national agenda focusing on both clinical preventive services (early detection, improved delivery of care and proper self-management measures) coupled with community preventive services (education initiatives, public health programs and policies) are needed to tackle this growing epidemic.

Being overweight is one of the leading risk factors for type 2 diabetes. This is cause for concern since the rate of obesity among adults in the United States has doubled since 1980. According to the latest estimates, 64 percent of Americans are considered overweight or obese. The rate of obesity among our children has tripled since 1980. The American Diabetes Association, which sponsors American Diabetes Month, encourages legislators to increase physical fitness opportunities and urges schools to offer healthier meals.

For more information on the DuPage County Health Department, follow us on Twitter @DuPageHD or become a fan on Facebook.

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