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Are you overweight?
Do you have any close relatives with diabetes?
Are you over 40?
Rosa R., a 47-year-old who weighed too much, went to the doctor because of a vaginal infection. The doctor treated her problem and found a second one. Rosa was diabetic.
Tom O., whose mother had diabetes at 50, visited the doctor for a checkup after failing the routine eye examination needed to renew his driver's license. After examining his eyes, the doctor suggested that Tom see his family doctor, who told Tom he had diabetes.
Rosa and Tom, like many other people, were unaware of the early warning signs for diabetes. Recurring vaginal infections and vision changes are two of them.
Diabetes, a chronic, incurable condition, is found throughout the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 120 to 140 million people worldwide have diabetes. The number of people with diabetes in the United States is growing; from 1990 to 1998 the incidence rose 33%, totaling 798,000 new cases a year. One out of every 14 Americans 17 million people have type 2 diabetes. Many others have diabetes but don't know it. It's one of the leading causes of death in this country.
The risk of getting diabetes increases with age. It is estimated that 18% of the U.S. population over 65 has diabetes. Slightly more women than men are affected. African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and natives of Alaska are at greater risk. Half of all Pima Indians have diabetes, making it a major health problem for this group. Lifestyle factors not eating enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; not being active; andweighing too much can also increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Copyright © 1991, 2003 by Annette Natow and Jo-Ann Heslin