Quiz: Could You Be At Risk for Diabetes?

HealthGal Health Guide
  • If you are struggling to make some lifestyle habit changes, in an effort to improve your overall health, you might want to consider if you are living a life that predisposes you to conditions like obesity and diabetes.  What does a pre-disease life look like?  Take the following quiz to see just how significant your risk is:

    1. Do you mostly sit for hours at your job daily?
    2. Do you exercise on a regular basis?
    3. Do you eat fast food or highly processed foods more than four times (meals) a week?
    4. Do you eat a lot of grain-based foods (pizza, pasta, cookies and cakes, sandwiches, cereals)?
    5. Are you carrying significant excess weight?
    6. Have you consistently gained weight over the last several years?
    7. Do you drink liquid calories daily (soda, sweetened beverages, juices, alcohol)?
    8. Do you get a yearly physical?
    9. Do you experience ongoing stress?

    Let’s look at your answers and see how the choices you are making may or may not be nudging you closer to a diagnosis of diseases like obesity and diabetes.

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    1. If you answered yes, then studies suggest that sitting many hours daily can raise your risk of developing obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  Humans were meant to walk the earth, and research indicates that sitting for long periods of time is associated with increased inflammation, a risk factor for diseases like diabetes.  In fact, every hour spent watching TV is associated with an increased risk of dying from heart disease.  There is also a direct link between diabetes and the risk of heart disease.  Experts are calling long periods of sitting at work sitting disease.  It certainly can put you in a pre-diabetes state.

     

    2. If you answered no, then you should know that being sedentary is considered to be a risk factor for diabetes.  It’s also clearly a risk factor for weight gain.  If you are overweight and inactive, then the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is even higher.

     

    3. If you answered yes, then according to research you are increasing your risk of developing diabetes.  Just eating fast food more than two times per week is associated with weight gain and with insulin resistance in even healthy young adults.  So if you’re sitting a lot and not exercising, imagine how much greater the risk is when you’re also making poor dietary choices.  A diet high in salt (fast food) can also predispose you to hypertension, which in turn is a risk factor for heart disease.

     

    4. If you answered yes, then you are indeed at a higher risk of developing diabetes.  Over the last few decades there’s been a shift from eating a diet higher in fat to eating a carbohydrate-driven diet.  Unfortunately, the carbohydrates we tend to choose don’t emphasize fiber or whole grains.  Another problem--we don’t think about portion control or consider the number of servings that would be appropriate.  Most consumers eat incredibly large  amounts of highly processed, high-sugar foods like pizza, pasta, rice, sugary cereals, cakes and pastries, fried potatoes, chips, white breads.  The nutrition bars and healthier snacks we choose are still very sweet, or salty, or very rich.  You may consider granola healthy because it has dried fruit, nuts, and whole grains. But you may not realize it typically has loads of added sugars and ¼ cup is a true serving size.  Most processed grain products should be considered occasional treats.

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    5. If you answered yes, then it’s important to know that this habit is a singular contributor to insulin resistance, raising the risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes.  It’s also important to note that aging is not an excuse for weight gain.  Consider that if and when you decide to get pregnant, you should emphasize a healthy diet and exercise to avoid gestational diabetes.  Pregnancy is not a good time to eat with abandon.

     

    6. If you answered yes, then consider that a pattern of ongoing weight gain, even just a couple of pounds a year, can turn into 20, 30 or even 40 pounds over a decade.  Excess weight, even when gained gradually, is a risk factor for diabetes.  Obesity is also a risk factor for several cancers, including breast and colon cancer.

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    7. If you answered yes, then consider that liquid calories are easily consumed without thought.  When you’re not forced to chew and swallow foods, it’s easy to forget that you’ve actually consumed calories.  Many experts called soda and juice liquid candy for this reason.  These beverages offer loads of calories without satiation.  They cause dramatic blood sugar elevations because they are digested quickly.  It’s easy to see how this particular habit is a journey straight to pre-diabetes and diabetes.  Swap out liquid calories for water and unsweetened teas.

     

    8. If you answered no, then consider that a once-a-year visit to the doctor is the only way to get objective feedback from a health professional with regards to your lifestyle practices, your weight, and your overall health.  It’s also an opportunity to get screened for diseases like heart disease and diabetes.  You can be symptom-free and have high blood pressure, higher than normal cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar levels.  It’s imperative to see a doctor at least once yearly, especially if your lifestyle habits raise your risk of developing a disease like diabetes.

     

    9. Ongoing stress is now considered a risk factor for a number of diseases, including diabetes.  A 2013 Swedish study suggests that perceived stress can indeed raise the risk of diabetes.  One mechanism may be the internal inflammatory changes that stress causes.  Another 2013 study suggests that work stress in particular may raise the risk of diabetes, especially in women.  Managing stress can help improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes.  A recent study also suggests that job strain, in particular, can contribute to an elevated risk of diabetes, independent of any other lifestyle risk factors.

     

    After reviewing your answers you can now shift your pre-disease lifestyle by choosing to improve how you live your life.  Losing weight, reducing stress, having a yearly checkup, moving more throughout the day, and making healthier food choices, including reducing your liquid calories, can all help to reverse that pre-disease and especially pre-diabetes lifestyle.  It's always helpful to have a doctor weigh in and clarify your risk of disease and the steps you can take to improve your health.

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Published On: August 22, 2014