What to Tell Family and Friends about Getting Checked for Diabetes

Reviewed and updated by Di Bush, PhD

Around 80 million Americans have pre-diabetes, which is the state of having blood glucose levels higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes. Untreated diabetes can lead to grave health problems such as blindness and nerve damage, so those at risk for diabetes should be sure to get their blood glucose level checked often.

The risk factors for diabetes can run in your family, so if you have diabetes it is very likely that your close relatives are at risk of getting diabetes too. And with nearly one-fifth of Americans over 60 years of age having diabetes, you’re likely to have friends with diabetes. The ADA urges that people with certain risk factors should have their blood glucose levels checked or screened for diabetes. A screening will help you find out which risk factors for diabetes can be changed and which cannot. This will help you to better plan a course of action to treat or prevent diabetes. If you find you are at risk for diabetes, it would be best to convince your loved ones to be screened as well.


The ADA urges screening to detect diabetes and pre-diabetes in people over the age of 45, with those having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 urged more than others to have the screening done.  The ADA also says that screening should be done if you are 45 or younger if you are overweight or have other risk factors such as having a parent or sibling with diabetes, being a member of a high-risk ethnic group, having had diabetes when pregnant, or if you gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.

Have your loved ones talk with their doctor to discuss if they should be screened for diabetes.


  1. Family history of diabetes. If a parent or a sibling has diabetes, your risk of getting type 2 diabetes is higher.
  2. Race. Certain ethnic groups such as American-Indians, Hispanics and African-Americans, are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. These ethnic groups have genes that might be linked to type 2 diabetes and they have also gone under more rapid changes to their lifestyles over the past 100 years.
  3. Gestational Diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy). Having diabetes while pregnant occurs in about 3% of all pregnancies, and most of the time goes away after the birth. If you have had diabetes while pregnant, you are at higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes later in life.
  4. Age. The risk of getting diabetes increases as you age. Over the age of 45, the risk for diabetes increases every year.


  1. Weight. Being overweight is one of the risk factors that you can change if you have diabetes. While weight loss can be hard, it can be done. The good news is that small amounts of weight loss of just 10 to 20 pounds can decrease your risk for diabetes very much. Someone is obese if he or she weighs more than 20% above their ideal body weight. One easy way to find out what a healthy weight is for you is to figure out your body mass index (BMI). A BMI over 30 tells you that you are very obese and puts you at much higher risk of getting diabetes. The risk for diabetes depends not only on your total weight, but how you carry your weight. Research has found that an apple-shaped body type in which you have more fat within your midsection, puts you at greater risk for diabetes and heart disease than if you have a pear-shaped body type in which you carry most of your fat in your thighs.
  2. Lack of Exercise. Not being active is also a risk factor of diabetes that can be changed. Staying active helps prevent diabetes since it helps you to burn fat, lose weight, and  makes the body’s insulin work better. Staying active at least 30 minutes three to five times a week can help lower your risk of diabetes. You should be sure though to consult with your doctor first before starting any exercise program.
  3. Body Fats. High blood fats, such as triglycerides, can put you at higher risk for heart disease and diabetes. Eating less fat in your diet can help lose weight and lower cholesterol and fats in your blood.
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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and www.NutritionStarringYOU.com. Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded NutritionBabes.com, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. NutritionBabes.com was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

OmnichannelHealth Media, publisher of DiabetesDigest.com, does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.