Diabetes: are you at risk?

What are the odds you will get diabetes?

The odds an American has already been diagnosed with the condition are 1 in 16.53, more than double what the odds were just 30 years ago. And those numbers do not capture the whole story because many people (1 in 51.92) have diabetes and don’t yet know it, making the actual odds you already have the condition 1 in 12.82. And the situation is only expected to get worse.

Based on current trends, the predicted odds an American will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050 are1 in 8.33. But for a boy who is currently 10 years old, the risk of being diagnosed in his lifetime is estimated to be 1 in 3.05; for a 10- year-old girl, the estimated risk is 1 in 2.6, almost the exact same odds that an adult in the US will go out to eat at least once a month.

Of the several types of diabetes, the explosion in type 2 is of the greatest concern. Where type 2 diabetes was once a disease that struck people over 40, according to the CDC there are an increasing number of young people afflicted—along with the explosion in the numbers among the general population. Heredity and genetics play a part in the increase, and there are theories that in utero exposure might also put a child at risk.

But by far the greatest risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are being overweight and being sedentary.

The odds that an American is either overweight or obese are 1 in 1.58 (63%). And despite decades of health advisories on the benefits of exercise, only about half of Americans get the recommended amount (1 in 2.13 or 47% of women and 1 in 1.97 or 51% of men). The good news is that many people can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes by changing their diet and their lifestyle.

The Diabetes Prevention Program, a major study involving 3,234 participants from 27 clinical centers around the country, found that pre-diabetics who were overweight, who exercised at least 150 minutes a week and lost weight (the aim was a 7% reduction), were able to reduce their risk of developing diabetes by a whopping 58%. And for those over 60, the reduction in risk was even higher—71%.

The conclusion of the study is that millions of Americans can avoid this disease. All it takes is willpower, determination, and the conviction that the life you save will be your own.