(BPT) - Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes nearly 26 million children and adults in the U.S., and 7 million do not even know they have it. An additional 79 million, or one in three American adults, have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
For 26 years, the American Diabetes Association has set aside one special day for people to learn their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Held on the fourth Tuesday of every March, American Diabetes Association Alert Day (R) is a one-day "wake-up call" asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test. This year’s Alert Day will be March 25. The Association will also be encouraging the public to start living a healthy and active lifestyle by asking them to join a Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes (R)event in their area.
The Diabetes Risk Test asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history, and other potential risk factors for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Preventive tips are provided for everyone who takes the test. For every Diabetes Risk Test taken, Boar’s Head Brand(R) - a leading provider of premium delicatessen products – will donate $5 to the American Diabetes Association starting March 25 through April 25, 2014, up to $50,000.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include people who are overweight, are under active, over the age of 45 or who have a family history of diabetes. African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are also at higher risk. Understanding your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, or getting an early diagnosis, is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.
Carmen Micciche was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 31. By then, at 400 pounds, he’d been feeling the symptoms for about six years, yet he ignored them.
“I didn’t even know what diabetes was when I was diagnosed,” says Micciche, now 56.
Micciche, a Subway (R) restaurant franchise owner, was so focused on building a successful business he ignored his health and suffered through numerous gall bladder attacks before finally seeing a doctor. After checking his blood pressure and testing for diabetes, he was sent to the hospital.
Twenty year later, Micciche now weighs about 185 pounds and has brought his A1C (average blood glucose levels) down from a staggering 12 percent to just over 6 percent, which is close to the normal range. He finally learned – with daily exercise and healthy eating – what it takes to be healthy.
“Eat right, exercise, listen to your doctors,” he says. “You have to do everything you can to maintain a healthy weight. The consequences are too high if you don’t.”
Micciche has helped raise more than $1 million for the American Diabetes Association to help Stop Diabetes (R), placing donation boxes and selling pin-ups in each of his 30 Subway restaurants . He wants everyone to know that a type 2 diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to end your life.
Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of body weight (such as 15 pounds if you weigh 200) through regular physical activity (30 minutes a day, five days a week) and healthy eating. By understanding your risk, you can take the necessary steps to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Be part of the movement to Stop Diabetes and take the Diabetes Risk Test by going to diabetes.org/risktest, the Association’s Facebook page where you can share the test with friends and loved ones, or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).