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New campaign bringing awareness to prediabetes

Times-Tribune - 8/23/2017

Aug. 23--The Kentucky Department of Public Health within the Cabinet of Health and Family Services announced a new campaign bringing awareness about prediabetes as a part of 52 Weeks of Public Health with the National Prediabetes Prevention Campaign.

According to a press release, national data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 84 million American adults -- more than 1.1 million of those are estimated to be Kentucky adults -- have prediabetes, which is a condition in which sugar levels are high but not quite high enough to yet be classified as type 2 diabetes.

"The reason there is such a big push related to the National Prediabetes Prevention Campaign is because we now have research that tells us that if we can get seven percent weight off with 30 minutes of exercise five days a week and keep our weight at a good range that we will prevent what we call 'insulin resistance,'" said Diabetes Smart Outpatient Coordinator Linda Mills, BSN, RN, CDE, MLDE. "Insulin resistance is when we start putting on weight in the truncal area and if we can prevent that then the sugars don't elevate."

Those who have prediabetes have increased risks to their long-term health, according to Mills, which includes developing type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

"When our weight goes up, our sugars start elevating and our blood pressure also starts elevating," said Mills. "If we can catch people in the early phases of prediabetes, maybe we can stop that before they develop type 2 diabetes."

Mills said there are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is typically found in children and type 2 diabetes typically is developed later in life.

She said her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a young age, which is why she has dedicated her life to teaching others about diabetes.

"The reason I have a passion for diabetes is because my son developed type 1 diabetes as a little boy," said Mills. "We actually changed the way we were eating and tried getting healthy as a family because of him. It was something that made us think about what we were doing, although that's not the way you want to get healthy."

According to the CDC, nearly 90 percent of people who have prediabetes are not even aware that they have the condition.

"A third of those with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years unless they and their healthcare team address this issue," said Janice Haile, RN, CDE with the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health. "The good news is there is something we can do once we know a person has prediabetes."

Mills said that is why it is so important to think of it as a lifestyle change and to begin teaching children how to eat healthy and the importance of exercise at a young age.

"Kids are just sponges, they absorb it all," said Mills. "Sometimes, with children, they don't really pay attention to what we say but they do pay attention to what we do."

Mills said this lifestyle change can be as simple as picking up a bag of apples at the grocery store rather than a bag of chips. She said that by looking at the labels on our food, like taking notice to serving sizes, we can make a difference in our health.

"It's really about the choices we make everyday," said Mills.

Mills said it's important to prevent diabetes because of the complications related to it but there are some instances in which people cannot change, like our genetics.

"Because we are on the Appalachian Trail, the CDC calls us the 'Stroke Belt,'" said Mills. "The reasoning behind that is simply because we have a strong American-Indian heritage on the Appalachian Trail. We cannot change that -- it is our genetics."

Mills said American-Indian adults are at a higher risk to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than those of other heritages, which is why we must watch what we eat more carefully and exercise regularly.

The Kentucky Department of Public Health is hoping that the National Prediabetes Prevention Campaign will raise awareness about this condition and encourage testing for prediabetes.

To take the prediabetes risk test, visit DoIHavePrediabetes.org, which Haile said is a one-minute test to determine whether you are at risk for prediabetes. Haile encourages you to speak with your healthcare professional to confirm this diagnosis.

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(c)2017 The Times-Tribune (Corbin, Ky.)

Visit The Times-Tribune (Corbin, Ky.) at www.thetimestribune.com

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