|Credit: U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs|
Nearly one in four Veterans receiving care from VA has diabetes.
This is partly attributable to the older average age of Veterans compared to the general US population. Veterans should know all the risk factors listed in the box on the right.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 26 million people, or about 8 percent of the US population, have diabetes.
That includes about 11 million persons 65 and older, or about 27 percent of seniors.
In the United States, about one-in-four persons with diabetes are not aware that they have the condition.
While exact numbers are not available, it is likely that the number is lower for Veterans receiving regular VA primary care.
However, many Veterans of all ages are at risk for diabetes because of the high rate of obesity and those who are overweight, estimated at over 70 percent of Veterans receiving VA care.
Weight Loss and Physical Activity
An individual does not have to achieve drastic weight loss. Losing about five percent of one’s weight will help.
In recent studies, a weight loss and exercise program was more effective than medication in both younger and older individuals. The medication was not effective in persons older than 60.
The VA’s MOVE! Weight Management Program is available to all Veterans who are overweight or obese and for whom weight management is appropriate. It supports Veterans in developing plans that work for them to lose or maintain weight through balanced diet, physical activity, and behavior change approaches.
For the MOVE! program to be tailored to the individual’s needs, the Veteran can complete a 23 item questionnaire. More information is available at www.move.VA.gov.
Diabetes and Agent Orange
Diabetes mellitus type 2 is one of the diseases VA presumes is associated with exposure to herbicides, such as Agent Orange. Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange do not have to prove a connection between their type 2 diabetes mellitus and military service to be eligible for VA benefits. Healthy eating habits and exercise can help prevent this chronic disease.
Visit the Agent Orange home page to learn more about Agent Orange and VA benefits.