According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the number of adult Coloradans with diabetes has soared 157 percent during the past decade, from 4.7 percent in 2003 to 7.4 percent in 2012. People with diabetes are at risk for more serious and costly health problems, such as loss of vision, lower limb amputations and kidney disease. But the Diabetes Prevention Program, now being offered by the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver, the American Diabetes Association and community groups across Colorado can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
The 16-week program, led by trained lifestyle coaches, helps participants achieve healthier eating and increase physical activity to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. It includes weekly sessions on topics such as how to read food labels, how to develop and maintain a healthy diet, and how to deal with stress without overeating.
“Unfortunately, as obesity rises in Colorado, so does our risk for diabetes,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer of the health department. “But we can turn the tide on obesity and save thousands of Coloradans from developing diabetes if we move more and eat healthier.”
Wolk said most Coloradans remain unaware of their blood sugar levels. Though diabetes is the eighth leading cause of death in Colorado, only an estimated one in four Coloradans with diabetes have been diagnosed. Only about 6 percent of adults are aware of having prediabetes, a precursor to diabetes, but the actual number is much higher. Without lifestyle changes, two thirds of those with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within six years.
But prediabetes doesn’t have to lead to diabetes. A study shows people who lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight can lower their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. For someone weighing 200 pounds, that means losing just 10 to 14 pounds.
“We urge Coloradans to talk to their health care providers about their risk for diabetes,” said Dr. Michael McDermott, president of the American Diabetes Association Colorado Community Leadership Board. “We want to help those with prediabetes avoid the serious consequences of type 2 diabetes through healthy, common-sense approaches to exercise and diet.”
Coloradans who are overweight and physically inactive with a family history of diabetes are at greater risk for developing diabetes and should have their blood sugar levels checked by their health care providers. For more information or to enroll in a Diabetes Prevention Program, call 1-800-DIABETES. To learn more about prediabetes and diabetes, go to CDPHE’s Diabetes’ Impact on Colorado fact sheet.