Concerned by the huge number of Americans – 57 million – who are now considered to have prediabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has launched “My Health Advisor.”
Available at CheckUpAmerica.org/MHA, it’s a website that helps people calculate their risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes (as well as heart disease and stroke). Then it outlines steps that they can take to lessen that risk.
At the heart of the site is an online calculator that determines a person’s risk for type 2 based on information that the person inputs. The calculator crunches a variety of data, such as age, family history, level of exercise, weight, diet, tobacco use, and access to healthcare, and then produces a percentage risk.
The ADA says that the calculator’s sophistication comes from a powerful health simulation program called Archimedes. Archimedes is based on years of clinical research data that allow it to make very accurate predictions about the health risks associated with certain patterns and behaviors.
“My Health Advisor” is not simply a potential bearer of bad news about high risk, however. It also gives advice about small changes in behavior that can significantly lessen that risk, such as taking walks or a daily dose of aspirin.
“My Health Advisor” is an adjunct to CheckUp America, a national prevention initiative of the ADA aimed at teaching people how to lower their risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. According to research cited by the ADA, many people believe that making lifestyle changes to reduce those risks is “too hard.” To counter that perception, “My Health Advisor” is intended to show visitors that even small steps can considerably lessen risk.
At the same time, the ADA cautions that risk factors affecting the onset of type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular problems fall into two distinct categories: “modifiable” factors that can be changed or controlled, such as diet, exercise, and smoking; and “nonmodifiable” factors, such as genetic predisposition, that cannot be changed.