Diabetes on the rise in the U.S. - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Diabetes on the rise in the U.S.

By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

June 25, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Eight percent of Americans now have diabetes, but the CDC estimates 5.7 million Americans do not know they have the disease.

"I think that's concerning and when you look at diabetes and all the other chronic illnesses, high blood pressure, obesity, we're seeing increases in trends and that's because we as Americans for the most part aren't living healthy lifestyles," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, S.W. Georgia Public Health Director.

Living a healthy lifestyle is key to reducing risk. Lisa Robertson knows that all too well, her family has a history of the disease.

"I just don't want to be one of the statistics, of being diagnosed with diabetes so I'm beginning to walk more and do things.  I have been diagnosed with hypertension, and try to keep that under control by walking and it has gotten a lot better," said Linda Robertson, Albany.

Of that 24 million diabetes, less than 3 percent are under the age of 39. Nearly 11 percent are age 40 to 59. The largest group, 23 percent, are age 60 and older.

"The thing about it and it's just like hypertension it is silently killing the person who has it they may not feel bad at firs but it increases the risk over time of heart disease and stroke," said Grant.

Marsha Kinnett doesn't have the disease, and suspects staying healthy was a factor.

"Exercise and eating right really helps you maintain your weight, and if you stay at a healthy weight then you're less apt to get more sick," said Marsha Kinnett, Albany.

"If we want to reduce these numbers we've got to eat better, exercise more, stop smoking, engage in positive thinking, and we've got to be screened that's our key message," said Grant.

The rate of diagnosed diabetes was highest among American Indians and Alaska Natives followed by blacks and Hispanics.

According to the CDC roughly 57 million people in the U.S. have blood sugar abnormalities, that put them at risk for diabetes.

Diabetes can lead to serious problems such as kidney disease and blindness.

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