March 26, is American Diabetes Association Alert Day®, and the YMCA wants residents of McPherson to know their risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, as well as preventive steps they can take today to reduce the chances of developing the disease.

In the United States alone, diabetes affects over 30 million people; another 84.1 million Americans have prediabetes, yet only about 1 in 4 are aware that they have the disease. These alarming numbers of people with diabetes has an impact on the cost of health care (in 2012 alone, the ADA estimates that diabetes cost the health care system $245 billion). This makes preventing the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes more important than ever before.

The nation’s struggle with obesity and type 2 diabetes is no surprise but the number of people with prediabetes is a growing issue, especially when so few people realize they have the condition. Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Often preventable, people with prediabetes can reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by adopting behavior changes that include eating healthier and increasing physical activity. People with prediabetes are at risk for not only developing type 2 diabetes, but also cardiovascular disease, stroke and other conditions.

As the leading community-based network committed to improving the nation’s health the McPherson family YMCA encourages all adults to take a diabetes risk test at www.ymca.net/diabetes. Several factors that could put a person at risk for type 2 diabetes include family history, age, weight and activity level, among others. If you find you are at risk, it would be wise to speak to your doctor.

Diabetes Alert Day is the perfect time to not only determine our own risk for prediabetes, but also encourage our family and friends to determine their chances of developing the disease. Studies show that people with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by making simple lifestyle changes that include eating healthier and increasing physical activity.

Some basic lifestyle changes that contribute to weight loss and an increased focus on healthy living can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes. Among these are:

* Reduce portion sizes of the foods you eat that may be high in fat or calories.

* Keep a food diary to increase awareness of eating patterns and behaviors.

* Be moderately active at least 30 minutes per day five days a week.

* Choose water to drink instead of beverages with added sugar.

* Incorporate more activity in your day, like taking the stairs or parking farther away from your destination.

* Speak to your doctor about diabetes risk factors, especially if you have a family history of the disease or are overweight

The McPherson Family YMCA is a non-profit charitable association and we welcome all regardless of race, religion, age, gender, income and ability to pay.