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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body is either no longer making a hormone called insulin or the insulin that is made is not working as it should. Either way, high amounts of glucose (a form of sugar) build in the bloodstream and cause problems from damage to the eyes, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves. For this reason, diabetes is the primary cause of new cases of adult blindness, kidney failure, and non-traumatic lower-limb amputation. Over a million Michigan adults have diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure.

Facts and Risk Factors:

One in 11 U.S. adults has been diagnosed with diabetes (closer to one in 10 in Michigan). At the current rate of growth, one in four U.S. adults will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050. As much as 80 percent of the growth in diabetes can be attributed to the rise in obesity. Obesity, in turn, is influenced by factors such as increased consumption of calories and decreased opportunities for physical activity. Some races and ethnicities are disproportionately affected by diabetes. African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian and Pacific Islanders, and Arab Americans all have higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes compared to White, non-Hispanics.


The latest statistics, developed by the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Diabetes Prevention and Control Program (DPCP), show the following:

  • Diabetes affects 29.1 million Americans (9.3% of the population) and an estimated 1.85 million (10.4% of the population*) Michigan citizens.
  • Prediabetes, a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes, affects 86 million Americans, including 2.6 million (8.2% of the population*) citizens in Michigan.
  • Diabetes costs the United States $174 billion annually and over $9 billion per year in Michigan.
  • Diabetes disproportionately affects some groups of people more than others, such as certain racial/ethnic groups, physically inactive people, overweight people and those who have a familial predisposition to the disease.


See what the NKFM is doing about diabetes disparities in 3 Michigan communities.
Diabetes Community Coalitions

Michigan Department of Community Health
View the Diabetes Burden Report and the Michigan Diabetes Action Plan

National Diabetes Education Program
View NDEP's Diabetes Snapshot

Centers for Disease Control
View the CDC's Diabetes Fact Sheet

Diabetes Prevention Program

Diabetes Partners in Action Coalition

Make a Move- Diabetes Resources in Michigan

MDHHS Behavioral Risk Factor Survey*

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a condition where people have higher than normal blood glucose levels, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. People with prediabetes are at high risk of developing diabetes. In Michigan, it is estimated over 2.6 million (8.2% of the population*)adults have prediabetes. If you have prediabetes, learn more about preventing type 2 diabetes by signing up for the Diabetes Prevention Program.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy. Diabetes means when you have high amounts of glucose (a form of sugar) in your bloodstream. Your body uses glucose for energy. Though, too much glucose can be harmful to you and your baby. GDM is usually diagnosed during late pregnancy. If you are diagnosed with GDM early in your pregnancy, you may have had diabetes before you became pregnant.

Facts and Risk Factors

  • Gestational Diabetes affects at least 7% and possibly as many as 18% of pregnancies in the United States.
  • Women with a history of gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60% chance of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 10 to 20 years.
  • Children of pregnancies where the mother had gestational diabetes may also be at increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Risk factors for developing gestational diabetes include:

  • being overweight/obese
  • having GDM before during a previous pregnancy
  • giving birth to a baby weighting more than 9 pounds
  • having family history of type 2 diabetes
  • having prediabetes, meaning your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to have type 2 diabetes
  • being African American, Hispanic/Latina, Asian American, American Indian, or Pacific Islander American

How to Prevent Diabetes Later in Life

If you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, take the necessary steps to prevent developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Regular screening tests are important. If you had GDM during your pregnancy, you should get tested for diabetes 6-12 months after your baby is born. If your blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough to have type 2 diabetes, you may have prediabetes and should be tested every year. Otherwise, you should plan to be tested every 3 years.

Reach and maintain a healthy weight. Try to reach your prepregnacy weight 6-12 months after your baby is born. If this goal seems like an over stretch, work towards losing 5-7% of your body weight and keep it off. For example, if you weight 200 pounds losing 10-14 pounds can help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Healthy eating habits will benefit you and your family. Choose low calorie foods that are low in fat and sodium grams. Incorporate fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein into your meals.

Be active. Physical activity is crucial for staying healthy and preventing type 2 diabetes. Set a goal to be active for 30 minutes a day 5 days a week, or 150 minutes per week. Some activities that will help increase your heart rate include brisk walking, jogging, biking, dancing, and swimming.

Join the NKFM's Diabetes Prevention Program, My Choice. . . My Health

My Choice. . . My Health is the NKFM's Diabetes Prevention Program. This evidence-based program helps those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle habits by eating healthier, increasing physical activity, and losing a modest amount of weight. In a group setting, a trained lifestyle coach facilitates a small group of participants in learning about healthier eating, physical activity, and other behavior changes over the course of 16 weekly one-hour sessions. To learn more about My Choice. . . My Health and to find an upcoming class near you, click HERE.


National Diabetes Education Program
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
Managing Gestational Diabetes: A Patient's Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy
This women's health podcast by the CDC focuses on gestational diabetes to help educate women about the condition