NH DHHS - Family History of Diabetes Increases Risk for Developing the Disease

For National Diabetes Awareness Month Take Steps to Prevent Diabetes

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services is partnering with the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) in recognizing National Diabetes Awareness Month this November by encouraging people to know their family history. Knowing your family’s history goes a long way toward preventing or delaying the development of serious diseases such as diabetes.

Many people who develop type 2 diabetes (onset in later life) have one or more family members with the disease so it is important to share this information with your doctor. The good news is that people with a family history of diabetes can take steps now to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

“I am encouraging all state employees as part of my affiliation with the State Wellness Advisory Group to increase their awareness of the health risks of diabetes, including their family history, and how to reduce their chances of developing this serious illness,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas.

The types of steps that can help prevent diabetes are also good for overall health. You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes even by losing a small amount of weight—5% to 7% or 10-14 pounds for a 200-pound person—and becoming more active. It is recommended that everyone be active at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Keeping a log of what you eat and when you exercise can help when speaking with your healthcare provider and it will help you track your progress.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to control sugar levels in the blood. Without proper care, diabetes can result in serious health problems, such as blindness, kidney failure, stroke, amputation, and heart disease. Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes, including 7.1% of Granite Staters. It is also estimated that one third of the people with diabetes don’t know they have it. People with undiagnosed diabetes may experience damage to their heart, eyes, kidneys, and limbs, without ever experiencing symptoms. It is also estimated that 57 million adults in the U.S. have pre-diabetes, placing them at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

“You can’t change your family history,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS, “but knowing about it can help you work with your healthcare team to take actions on the things you can change, such as losing weight, exercising more, and eating better. So speak with your family to find out if you have any close relatives who have or had diabetes. If any woman in your family had gestational diabetes while pregnant, she is also at increased risk for diabetes in the future and so is that child.”

To learn more about family health history and preventing type 2 diabetes, check out the NDEP website at http://ndep.nih.gov/media/you_could_be_at_risk.pdf in English and Spanish.

Visit www.YourDiabetesInfo.org or call 1-888-693-NDEP (6337) TTY 1-866-569-1162 for more information.