Are You Overly Optimistic About Your Chances Of Having Diabetes?

Though it’s estimated up to half of Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes, an interesting study done in Germany suggests a lot of us are overly-optimistic about our health.

The study revealed that many people with high blood sugar or undiagnosed diabetes vastly underestimate the likelihood of having, or developing type 2 diabetes.

Reality Check

The investigators reached their conclusions by looking at 2,000 individuals who had not been given a diabetes diagnosis, nor used diabetes medications:

  • First, the study participants were asked to estimate their chances of having diabetes.
  • Second, the participants were given an OGTT, or Oral Glucose Tolerance Test.
  • Then, without revealing test results to the participants, the researchers focused on those with positive OGTT tests results for diabetes.

Of the participants with positive test results indicating pre- or type 2 diabetes:

  • A whopping 74 percent had estimated their chance of having undetected diabetes was low, or very low.
  • Above 70 percent of those determined to have pre-diabetes stated, before taking the OGTT, that they were not at risk for developing diabetes.

From these results, the scientists drew the inevitable conclusion that we are frequently way too optimistic about our health.

Tempering Optimism With Pragmatism

Since there are often no noticeable symptoms with pre-diabetes, or even early stage type 2 diabetes, it’s not too surprising that people might under-estimate their probability of having the disease. However, the consequence of living with unchecked elevated glucose is a gradual erosion of health. By the time many people receive a diabetes diagnosis they have already sustained nerve, blood vessel, and possibly organ damage.

The take away from this study is the tremendous benefit of having our blood glucose levels checked regularly, particularly if we, or those we care about have high risk factors for diabetes:

  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Overweight or obese.
  • Smoke.
  • Unhealthy diet.
  • Family history of the illness.

It is much easier to put pre-diabetes into remission with lifestyle changes, than to alleviate symptoms of type 2 diabetes, so early and regular testing is recommended even for people who generally eat well, are active, and not overweight.

Pragmatism is good prevention for problems. ~ Amit Kalantri

Sources: DZD/German Center For Diabetes; Forbes
Photo credit: Ryan Hyde

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