Health

1 Million San Diegans Could Develop Type 2 Diabetes

About 1 million adult San Diegans could develop type 2 diabetes according to a projection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That’s based on a CDC estimate that two out of five Americans could develop type 2 diabetes during their adult lives. There are about 2.5 million adults in San Diego County.

Diabetes is a disease which causes the blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal because the body cannot process it properly. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.

“The projection is very concerning, especially because type 2 diabetes can be prevented,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Also, uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk for heart disease and stroke and can cause blindness, nerve damage and kidney problems.”

According to the 2014 California Health Information Survey, 6.8 percent of adults in San Diego County had ever been diagnosed with diabetes and another 11.1 percent had pre- or borderline diabetes. Also, 614 people died and over 4,400 were hospitalized from complications due to diabetes in 2013, the most recent data available. And, about 55 percent of San Diego adults are overweight or obese.

The County and its many partners have joined efforts to prevent diabetes and other chronic diseases through Live Well San Diego.

So how do you prevent diabetes and manage it if you do?

November is American Diabetes Month and here are six tips that can help you prevent or manage type 2 diabetes:

See if you are at risk for prediabetes

  • Answer seven quick questions to see if you are at risk for prediabetes, when your sugar levels are high, but not high enough to have diabetes.
  • Prediabetes is a time where you can make changes, such as those below, to possibly prevent developing diabetes.

Drop those extra pounds

  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Every pound you lose can improve your health.
  • Participants in one large study who lost a modest amount of weight by eating right and exercising regularly reduced their risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.

Get moving

  • Exercise can help you lose weight and lower your blood sugar.
  • Do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of moderate physical activity.

Fill up on fiber

  • Eat small portions and fill up on fiber by eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.
  • Fiber can help you feel full, leading to weight loss, and lowering your risk of heart disease.

Extinguish the habit

  • Smoking raises your blood sugar level and damages blood vessels, which can cause diabetes, worsen foot ulcers, and lead to leg and foot infections.
  • Smokers with diabetes are more likely to develop nerve damage and kidney disease.

Make nice with your M.D.

  • Ask your doctor if diabetes testing is appropriate for you, especially if you’re older than 40 and your weight is above normal.
  • Your doctor may refer you to a National Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based lifestyle change program to help prevent diabetes.

“You can help prevent type 2 diabetes by eating healthier, being more physically active, and losing weight,” Wooten added. “It’s never too late to start. A few simple changes now may help you avoid the serious health problems from diabetes down the road.”

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José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact