Having a number of risk factors for a disease doesn’t necessarily mean a person will end up developing it. They do play a role in determining a person’s odds, but a lot of them — especially those related to lifestyle — are things we can control. Age, on the other hand, creeps up on all of us. The older a person gets, the higher their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Anyone can develop diabetes at any age. The reality is there is a delicate balance between our age and the lifestyle changes we allow to happen as we get older. We can’t stop ourselves from getting older, but we can control the risk factors that combine with our advancing years to make developing type 2 diabetes more likely. Here’s what you need to know.
Your Age May Increase Your Odds of Developing Diabetes, but You’re Still in Control.
According to the American Diabetes Association, it was estimated that approximately 30.3 million Americans had diabetes in 2015, but up to 7.2 million of those people were undiagnosed. Around 12 million seniors over the age of 65, both diagnosed and not, were included in that number. That number — more than a third of the total — is staggering.
Why Does Type 2 Diabetes Risk Go Up with Age?
A lot of emphasis is placed on research and treatment for middle-aged diabetics as that segment of the population is most likely to be impacted by an inability to work if their condition remains uncontrolled. Increased insulin resistance and decreased pancreatic function are also natural parts of aging that start to impact your risk around the age of 45. When you combine them with poor lifestyle choices, you monumentally increase your risk of developing diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is especially prevalent because of the obesity epidemic in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the prevalence of new diagnoses will double over the next two decades. In short, even if the general rate of new diabetes cases slows down due to a decline in obesity, the aging population will continue to catapult diabetes diagnosis numbers forward. The number of new diagnoses is expected to at least double in the next 20 years.
Controlling Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
Despite age taking a toll on insulin resistance and pancreatic function, Americans do still have some control over their lifestyle choices and can reduce their odds of developing diabetes. Some of the ways to control diabetes risk factors include:
- Staying active with at least 30 minutes of exercise per day
- Weight management (or weight loss)
- Regularly monitoring blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers
- Eating a balanced diet full of plant-based nutrients
- Staying hydrated with water as opposed to sugary substances
- Managing stress levels to control the hormones that impact blood sugar
- Improving the number of quality hours of sleep received each night
Remember — again — a risk factor is not a diagnosis. While age increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other diseases, it’s possible to control the other contributing factors. Even if we can’t completely fend off a diagnosis, we can still work to minimize the impact diabetes has on our bodies.
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