How Much Do You Know About Type 2 Diabetes?
The facts you don't know about type 2 diabetes can hurt you. Take the quiz below to stay on top of your health.
1. You may have prediabetes if you have which of the following?
A) Frequent urinary tract and yeast infections and/or a persistent urge to urinate in the middle of the night
B) Cavities and dry mouth and/or dark, velvety skin patches around the neck
2. At what body mass index (BMI) can you develop diabetes?
A) 18.5 to 24.9 (normal weight) or 25 to 29.9 (overweight)
B) 30 or above (obese)
3. What surprising things can you do to avoid diabetes?
A) Schedule a lunch date with friends and turn off TVs and tablets for a few hours before bedtime
B) Quit drinking coffee and stay out of the sun
4. What do you need to do before getting a blood test to screen for diabetes?
A) Abstain from eating or drinking for eight hours
B) Nothing special
5. True or false: Diabetes can be cured.
1. Answer: All of the above.
A staggering 84 million adults have prediabetes, in which blood sugar is elevated but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2, yet 90 percent of them are completely unaware of their condition. The signs can be tough to spot, as chronic high blood sugar affects all parts of the body. "I don't think people recognize how bad they feel until after they've received treatment," says Katie O'Sullivan, MD, assistant professor of adult and pediatric endocrinology at the University of Chicago Medicine Kovler Diabetes Center.
2. Answer: All of the above.
In a 2016 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, nearly one in five normal- weight adults age 20 and older had prediabetes. A more revealing marker than BMI is waist circumference: 35 inches or higher is a major warning sign. "People with larger waists tend to have more visceral fat—the kind located around the organs—which is a greater risk for diabetes," says Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at Joslin Diabetes Center. Ethnicity matters, too. Asian Americans have up to a 50 percent greater risk for diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, even at lower BMIs.
3. Answer: Schedule a lunch date with friends and turn off TVs and tablets a few hours before bedtime.
Recent research shows that individuals isolated from family and friends are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease. "While the biological pathway has yet to be discovered, it may be due to the toxicity of stress or an elevation in cortisol levels," says O'Sullivan, "both of which are buffered by social connection." She also points out that sleeping less than seven hours per night—perhaps because of the TV's blue light—can disrupt insulin regulation. Did you guess quit drinking coffee? Actually, a Harvard School of Public Health study found that people who increased their java habit over four years by more than a cup per day on average lowered their odds of developing diabetes over the following four years by 12 percent.
4. Answer: Nothing special.
Screening always used to require a fasting blood glucose test, which meant you couldn't eat or drink anything for about eight hours prior. Today you can get a diagnosis via a simple A1C test, which measures average blood sugar levels over three months and requires no prep. (FYI, 5.7 to 6.4 percent is in the prediabetes range; 6.5 percent or higher is diabetes.)
5. Answer: False—but it can be put into remission.
"If diabetes is mild and caught early, you may be able to make lifestyle changes including diet and exercise to help you lose weight and improve your insulin response so you can come off medication," says O'Sullivan. In fact, a 2017 analysis published in the journal BMJ noted that for overweight or obese people, losing an average of 33 pounds can put blood sugar levels into the recommended range—a big step on the path to great health.
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