Diabetes – know the risks

Close to 25 percent of VA patients have diabetes


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Did you know that nearly one in four Veterans receiving care from VA have diabetes?

This is mostly because of the older average age of Veterans compared to rest of the people in the United States.

Many Veterans of all ages are at risk for diabetes because of the high rate of Veterans who are obese or overweight and that number is estimated to be over 70 percent of Veterans receiving VA care.

Now – today – is the time for you to take charge of your diabetes so you can live a longer, healthier life.

Preventive care for people with diabetes has improved a lot over the past 20 years and Veterans are living longer and better with the diseaseSymptoms of diabetes include blurry vision, excessive thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, hunger, and weight loss. Learn more here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 26 million people, or about 8 percent of the US population, have diabetes.

That includes about 11 million persons 65 and older, or about 27 percent of seniors.

In the United States, about one-in-four persons with diabetes are not aware that they have the condition.

Weight Loss and Physical Activity

DiabetesAn individual does not have to achieve drastic weight loss. Losing about five percent of one’s weight will help.

VA’s MOVE! Weight Management Program is available to all Veterans who are overweight or obese and for whom weight management is appropriate. It supports Veterans in developing plans that work for them to lose or maintain weight through balanced diet, physical activity, and behavior change approaches.

MOVE! is available in multiple convenient formats including group sessions, telephone-based care, and a new home messaging program called TeleMOVE! that uses the telephone line, provides daily support, and is interfaced with a scale for weekly home weigh-ins.

Talk with your Primary Care Team about MOVE!

Although the focus of American Diabetes Month is to identify individuals at higher risk for developing diabetes, it is important to remind persons who already have diabetes of the importance of weight loss and physical activity in managing diabetes.

Additionally, persons with diabetes or at risk for diabetes should manage other conditions, such as hypertension or high lipid levels, appropriately, and if you have diabetes, you should be screened at regular intervals for early signs of kidney, foot or eye conditions.

Know the Risks

  • Family history of diabetes (parents or siblings)
  • Member of a high-risk racial/ethnic group (African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander)
  • Pre-diabetes (high fasting blood glucose ask your doctor)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Low “good cholesterol” (HDL) and high triglycerides
  • Presence of heart or other vascular disease
  • Overweight or Obesity
  • Abdominal obesity
  • Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • History of gestational diabetes mellitus
  • History of delivering babies weighing more than nine pounds
  • Very low physical activity

Author

Hans Petersen

Hans Petersen is senior writer-editor for Digital Media, VHA Office of Communications. An Air Force Veteran, Hans also served two years in the Peace Corps and worked for 20 years in broadcasting before joining VA.