November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Seven in 10 Vermont adults are likely to have prediabetes, but more than half are unaware of this diagnosis. While diabetes may run in the family, you do have control over your health.

3-4-50 is a simple concept to help us grasp the reality that 3 health behaviors contribute to 4 chronic diseases, including diabetes, that claim the lives of more than 50% of Vermonters. What are the 3 behaviors?

Lack of physical activity — Aim for 30 minutes of activity every day. Start slowly with just a 10-minute walk and go from there.

Unhealthy eating — Most of us do not eat enough fruits and vegetables each day. Check out “What’s Cooking Rutland” at pegtv.com for easy family-friendly recipes.

Tobacco use — Ready to quit smoking? Visit 802Quits.org for help or sign up for virtual tobacco cessation classes at myhealthyvt.org.

Prediabetes means your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Prediabetes leads to health problems even before diabetes develops, including early kidney disease, nerve damage and small blood vessel damage in organs such as the eyes. Without lifestyle changes, up to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes within five years. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack and stroke.

Are you at risk? Take a prediabetes screening test online at myhealthyvt.org. There, you will also find information about the My Healthy VT Diabetes Prevention Workshop (also known as Prevent T2). Diabetes Prevention Workshops can help you take control of your health and wellness with the support and tools needed to start and stick with healthy behavior changes. Lifestyle change programs are proven to help those with prediabetes delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.

Workshop participants can cut their risk of diabetes by more than half, lose weight and feel healthier. A recent workshop participant shared, “It was helpful to set realistic goals; my exercise goal was to simply add 2 minutes to my walk each week. Knowing that I would share my progress with our group each week really helped me stay on track.”

Vermonters are more likely to die from preventable diseases rather than addictions or infectious disease. Diabetes is not inevitable. People with prediabetes can prevent or delay diabetes and those with diabetes can effectively manage their condition to prevent further health complications. Aim to eat healthier, get more physically active and quit tobacco, to help prevent prediabetes from turning into diabetes. Both prevention and delay help avoid serious and costly health problems down the road.

This week’s Health Talk was written by Bethany Yon, chronic disease prevention specialist at the Vermont Department of Health, 786-5115, Bethany.yon@vermont.gov

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