Learn the truth about Type 2 diabetes
By Elizabeth Garcia
Special to The Daily News
Published July 3, 2011

Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes, now is becoming a more common disease, especially in children and young adults.

Learning about Type 2 diabetes and the risk factors involved can help a person detect the disease early enough and know what he or she needs to do to lower the risk.

Here are common diabetes myths associated with Type 2 diabetes:

• Only overweight or obese people develop Type 2 diabetes.

While being overweight or obese is a risk factor, it is not the only risk factor. There are other risk factors to consider, such as family history. If you have immediate family members who have developed Type 2 diabetes, you will have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Ethnicity also plays a role. African Americans, Asians and Hispanics are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than Caucasians. Unfortunately, people tend to disregard the other risk factors and think weight is the only factor to consider.

• Type 2 diabetes is not a serious disease.

A common misconception is the seriousness of diabetes. Because Type 2 diabetes tends to develop slowly over time, many people tend to believe it is not a serious disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes kills more people each year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.

• Only older people develop Type 2 diabetes.

Living a sedentary lifestyle combined with being overweight or obese has led to an increase in the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. Before this, Type 2 diabetes was an adult disease that developed in people who were overweight or obese and older than 40 years old. Now, children as young as 10 years old are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

• People with diabetes can’t eat anything sweet.

People with Type 2 diabetes can eat sweets; the key is limiting them. Sweets can be eaten in moderation by people with Type 2 diabetes, if eaten as part of a healthy meal plan and combined with exercise. Working closely with your health provider and, if possible, a dietitian is very important in learning healthy eating habits.

• Having diabetes means giving up your favorite foods.

There is no reason to give up your favorite foods. Working closely with a dietitian can help you learn how to incorporate your favorite foods into a healthy balanced diet.

Knowledge is empowerment. Taking steps to learn is an important part of the management, control and prevention of diabetes.

If you suspect you have diabetes, contact your health provider. There are several tests that are used to diagnose Type 2 diabetes.

If you would like to learn more about Type 2 diabetes, The University of Texas Community Outreach offers free diabetes classes at 10 a.m. every Tuesday. Classes are bilingual and open to anyone interested in learning more about Type 2 diabetes. Classes are at St. Vincent’s Clinic, 2817 Postoffice St., in Galveston.

For information, contact me, 409-539-5384 or el3garci(at)utmb.edu.

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Elizabeth Garcia is a community health worker with the University of Texas Community Outreach.