"If you think education is expensive," said former Harvard president Derek Bok, "try ignorance."
And, wow, is he right. While the average cost of an in-state public university runs about $22,000 a year, just imagine what the health-care bill will be for the 71 million Americans with prediabetes who don't know they have it. They'll make the $245 billion now spent annually to treat 26 million folks with full-blown diabetes look like pocket change.
Out of the 79 million Americans with borderline high blood sugar levels (that's prediabetes), only 11 percent of you know you're careening toward diabetes. And that's a real shame, because you can protect yourself from the damage caused by rising blood sugar levels: heart disease, vision and kidney problems, nerve damage, sexual dysfunction, depression and dementia.
But first you have to know you're at risk. Ask your doctor for an A1C blood test - an accurate snapshot of your average glucose level in the past few months. If your results are 5.7 percent to 6.4 percent, that means you have prediabetes. If so, it's time to:
1. Reduce your body weight 5 percent to 7 percent by upgrading your diet and walking every day; the goal is 10,000 steps a day. You'll slash your diabetes risk by 58 percent.
2. Eliminate the five food felons from your diet: added sugar and sugar syrups, saturated fat, all trans fats and any grain that isn't 100 percent whole.
You have the power to protect your health and live a younger and more active life, so use it!
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.