Of the 26 million Americans with diabetes, seven million people do not know they have the disease.

Tomorrow marks American Diabetes Association Alert Day. It's designed as a one-day wake-up call to inform the public about the seriousness of diabetes, particularly when the disease is left undiagnosed or untreated. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) wants people to know their risk for developing this devastating condition.

Having a family history of type 2 diabetes, being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, over the age of 45, or having a history of gestational diabetes all increase a person's chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is also more common in African Americans, people of African Ancestry, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.

The good news is that people can prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes, such as losing a modest amount of weight, being more active and making healthy food choices.

NDEP's Just One Step online tool can help people take the first step toward better health by breaking down goals into small, achievable, steps.

Dr. John Buse, MD, PhD, is the chair of the National Diabetes Education Program, Director of the Diabetes Care Center and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He says preparation is the first step at battling it.

Buse says "most of the time, symptoms don't pop up until you've already had it for five years. Get tested. It's so important and can save a life."

The NDEP, a joint initiative of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is encouraging people throughout the month of March and especially on Diabetes Alert Day, to take the Diabetes Risk Test.

The test can be done online, in the privacy of your home.