According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages, that's over 8% of the U.S. population, yet many Americans know little about it. The stories about diabetes have become legend and many are wrong. Let's clear some up:
First misconception, only heavy people get diabetes. "There are two types of diabetes. Type 1, which was formerly called child onset diabetes. That is an insulin dependent autoimmune disease," says Health Educator Kristine Lindahl.
In Type 1 Diabetes, the immune system attacks cells in the pancreases. It can happen to anyone, obesity is not a risk factor as it is with Type 2 diabetes, which comes on largely because of being overweight.
A bad diet is the major cause of Type 2 diabetes. But there are many more factors to consider: Age, a history of gestational diabetes, in addition to family history of diabetes and giving birth to a baby over 9 lbs., getting good cholesterol up and bad cholesterol down is key.
Another myth: Diabetes is not serious. To those who brush off the disease, Lindahl has this warning, "I would say think again. It is very serious."
While possible complications can be kept in check with good management, a number of risk factors for conditions occur as a result of having diabetes. "Some of the complications you can have are with your heart and blood vessels, your eyes are at risk for cataracts, nerve damage which can lead to amputation, especially in the feet, kidney failure. Problems with gums and teeth can lead to a risk for heart disease and heart health."
Blood glucose levels can determine if you are pre-diabetic. There are no symptoms of prediabetes, but experts recommend if you are pre-diabetic getting on a plan to lose 5% of your body weight, lowing your risk of full blown diabetes. 79 million people are pre-diabetic and that is about 35 % of the United States adult population. Everything from your brain to your sexuality can be affected by diabetes.