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American Diabetes Month

Feature Story

Health Center Today, November 19, 2010

Nearly a Million People Have Joined the Movement to Stop Diabetes®, Including Bret Michaels

By Chris Kaminski

Almost everyone knows about the seriousness of diabetes, yet the incidence of the disease is on the rise. The American Diabetes Association annually designates November as American Diabetes Month®. This year’s theme asks, "How Will You Stop Diabetes?" To help the ADA raise awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of prevention and control, Bret Michaels, musician and winner of NBC’s "Celebrity Apprentice," is representing the "Face of Diabetes" and is involved in various activities including being featured in a public service announcement campaign that he helped produce.

There are three major types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 which results from the body’s failure to produce insulin. This type of diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was formerly known as juvenile diabetes.
  • Type 2 which results from the body not producing enough insulin (insulin deficiency) or the cells ignoring the insulin produced (insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and is becoming more common in obese children.
  • Gestational diabetes which occurs in pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

In the United States, one in three people will have Type 2 diabetes by 2050 according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes. "Everyone should be aware of the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes," says Jean Kostak, UConn Health Center diabetes education program coordinator. "Individuals who are overweight, living a sedentary lifestyle, and over the age of 45 should consider themselves at risk for the disease. African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and people who have a family history of the disease are also at an increased risk."

Additionally, there are an estimated 57 million Americans who have pre-diabetes. Those with pre-diabetes have blood glucose levels higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and increased physical activity can help delay or prevent the onset of the disease.

Whether the diagnosis is diabetes or pre-diabetes, education is critical, says Kostak. The UConn Health Center offers several diabetes education programs, including "Diabetes Self-management," "Meal Planning and Carbohydrate Counting," and "New to Diabetes Care" workshops. Attendees are encouraged to bring their partner or support person to the sessions. "Once diagnosed, diabetes is life-long, but it is controllable," Kostak says. "We have group and individual classes here in Farmington and at the UConn offices in West Hartford, East Hartford and Simsbury. They’re taught by dietitians and nurses who are certified diabetes educators."

For further information or to make an appointment with the Diabetes Education Program, call 800-535-6232.