Every 17 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. What's even more surprising is diabetes is growing fastest among younger people, outpacing the rate of heart disease, substance abuse and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows that the impact of diabetes continues to grow and is increasing most rapidly among those age 18 through 34. The 4.7 percent growth in diabetes impact for younger adults from 2013 through 2015 corresponds to this age group's spike in obesity rates, a key contributor to the onset of diabetes.
Diabetes ranks third in terms of its health impact nationally on quality of life and cost for the commercially insured population among the more than 200 conditions. The "health impact" of a specific condition reflects the prevalence and severity for that condition as well as the years of life lost due to disability and risk of premature death.
Younger people may not be as focused on their health and many may not be aware they are at risk for diabetes at their age. The first step is to understand the risk and the next step is to take action. Type 2 diabetes is preventable with thoughtful, proactive measures.
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are many ways to lower your risk of developing diabetes, including:
Weight: staying at a healthy weight can help you prevent and manage problems like prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol. Keep tabs on your weight by weighing yourself at least once per week. Stay active and strive to watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
Physical activity: physical activity can do a lot for your overall health. Set your alarm to get up and stretch or walk around the house or office at least every 30 minutes throughout the day. A walking buddy or workout friend can support you while you both work toward your goals.
Healthy eating: eating healthy is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Cut back on calories and fat in your diet. Choose lean meats, whole grains and fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies such as carrots, broccoli and green beans. Consider keeping a journal of what you eat and have fun trying new healthy recipes. Finally, speak with your doctor about any concerns you have. Your doctor is able to provide individualized insight into your risks and guide you to how you can prevent diabetes and live healthier.