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HEALTH REPORT- Testing for Pre-Diabetes - 2002-04-16

Broadcast: April 17, 2002

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

American health experts say more people should be tested for a condition called pre-diabetes. Recent health studies have shown that people can delay or prevent the disease diabetes by losing weight and increasing physical exercise.

About one-hundred-thirty-five-million people around the world have diabetes. They have high levels of the sugar called glucose in their blood. Glucose levels increase when the body lacks or cannot use the hormone insulin. This results in diabetes.

The disease damages a person’s blood vessels, kidneys, eyes and nerves. It stops blood flow to the feet and legs. And it increases the chances of heart disease and strokes.

There are two kinds of diabetes. Type One develops in children or young adults. Type Two develops in older adults. This is the kind that researchers now say can be delayed or prevented by testing for pre-diabetes.

People with pre-diabetes have levels of glucose that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. There are no signs of this condition. Without treatment, most people with the condition will develop diabetes.

Health experts note a sharp increase in diabetes as a result of an increase in the number of Americans who are too fat. Government health experts and the American Diabetes Association are beginning a campaign to educate people about this danger. They say doctors can test people in two ways. One blood test measures the level of glucose in the blood after the person has not eaten for about twelve hours. Another test measures the glucose level two hours after the person drinks a liquid containing glucose.

The government says doctors should test people over the age of forty-four who are overweight. It says doctors should also consider testing younger people who are overweight or have family members with diabetes. People found to have pre-diabetes should receive advice about ways to lose weight and increase exercise.

Researchers in Finland and the United States have studied overweight people with pre-diabetes. Two large studies showed that those who lost weight and exercised reduced their chances of developing the disease by fifty-eight percent. Experts say that people who walk thirty minutes a day can greatly reduce their chance of developing diabetes.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Nancy Steinbach.