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Welcome to the United States of Diabetes

After spending the holidays gorging on enough pound cake, turkey and pecan pie to feed the entire front line of the Minnesota Vikings, I received a timely e-mail from my health insurance provider that instantly caught my attention. The article was titled The United States of Diabetes*. According to statistics from United-Health’s Center for Health Reform & Modernization*, half the country could develop diabetes or prediabetes by the year 2020.

When visiting Europe last year, it was easy to spot the American travelers huffing and puffing from the ticket counter to the baggage claim. Some were barely able to keep up with their fast-moving tour guide. Many of these American travelers were overweight and barely able to shoehorn themselves into the narrow seats found on most European tour buses. How many of these travelers were aware that they were suffering from diabetes or knew they had the power to change the progressive course of the disease with timely intervention?

The cost of this nightmare will be nearly $3.35 trillion over the next decade. Diabetes affects 27 million Americans and the numbers are growing daily. Over 67 million Americans are affected by prediabetes. Unfortunately, most are unaware they have the disease. Obesity is the primary risk factor for diabetes. Over two- thirds of American adults and 17 percent of children are overweight. A weight gain of just 11-16 pounds doubles the risk of type 2 diabetes and a weight gain of 17-24 pounds may triple the risk.

Diabetes is a progressive illness, yet, there are many opportunities to change the outcome of the disease before it’s too late. Adopt preventive lifestyle changes now. Check with your health insurance provider to learn ways to control your diabetes. Most health insurance providers have instituted programs to help their members make healthy lifestyle changes. When you compare the cost of insuring a diabetic, $11,700, to $4,400 for the rest of the population, you begin to understand the growing interest of health insurance companies in preventive measures.

Begin the New Year with prevention in mind. Start an exercise program, learn more about eating a healthy diet, and more importantly consult your physician to learn safe ways to lose weight. Call your health insurance provider for free information. Weight loss programs like Weight Watchers have now started online programs to make losing weight more convenient than ever.

After reading the timely e-mail that landed in my inbox, I’ve decided to lose a much needed 10 pounds. In a few months, I will have cut my diabetes risk in half. That’s a good thing for me and America.

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