If you or a loved one has type 2 diabetes, you’re not alone. More than 18 million Americans have type 2 diabetes.

For many people with type 2 diabetes, controlling blood sugar is a struggle every day. In fact, a report issued last year by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) showed that two out of three Americans with type 2 diabetes analyzed in a study were not in control of their blood sugar.

It is important to control blood sugar because it lowers the risk of serious health problems later. Diabetes can cause heart disease, stroke, blindness, loss of limbs and kidney disease.

But now, there’s new help to better manage type 2 diabetes. Life and fitness coach Bob Harper of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and a panel of diabetes experts created easy-to-understand and motivational steps people can take to get their blood sugar down. They are called 6.5 Steps Toward Better Blood Sugar Control. These steps are different because they can fit easily into everyday living.

“Through my years of coaching and training, I’ve worked with many people with type 2 diabetes and have seen how hard it can be to live with this disease,” said Bob Harper. “But I learned that anyone can change their life. It’s all about finding the right tools and motivation. I urge people with type 2 diabetes to step it up and use the 6.5 Steps and make them a part of their daily lives.”

The 6.5 Steps can help people with type 2 diabetes every day because they focus on the basics of diabetes management: eating healthy, being physically active, monitoring blood sugar and, when appropriate, taking one or more medicines. These all play a part to help lower blood sugar.

Healthy Eating: Healthy eating reduces the risk for complications such as heart disease and stroke. Good choices include many foods, such as vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nonfat dairy products, beans, and lean meats, poultry and fish. There is no one perfect food, but watching portion sizes is key to a healthy diet.

Physical Activity: Regular physical activity can lower blood sugar levels. It can also help manage weight and reduce the risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. There are little things people with type 2 diabetes can do every day to be more active, such as walking with a friend or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Blood Sugar Monitoring: There are two tests for checking blood sugar. One test is the blood sugar monitoring that patients do on their own. It gives people with diabetes a check of their blood sugar level at the time the test is taken. The other one is called the A1C test. The A1C test shows a person’s average blood sugar levels over the previous two to three months. Experts say that a good A1C goal is 6.5 percent or less for most people with type 2 diabetes.

Medicines: Most people with type 2 diabetes take medicine to help control their blood sugar levels. Many need more than one medicine to help treat the disease in different ways.

For people with type 2 diabetes, it is important that they team up with their doctor or other health care professional and think of them as a partner. They should work with their health care team to make a plan to get their blood sugar under control.

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