The facts on diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

From 2000 to 2017, diagnosed diabetes in Kentucky adults has nearly doubled from 6.5% (198,052) to 12.9% (442,500 or 1 in 8). Within the seven-county Green River service area, our incidence of diagnosed diabetes is 13.7%.

Kentucky ranks 7th highest in the United States for diabetes prevalence. An estimated 147,500 adults are living with undiagnosed diabetes, based on the national rate. One potential reason for the increase in the rate of diabetes is improved awareness around the importance of early detection.

Diabetes is manageable and in many cases, type 2 diabetes can be preventable. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include overweight, age 45 or older, physically inactive, having prediabetes (an A1C of 5.7% -- 6.4%) and family history.

The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. What can you do to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes? Find out if you have prediabetes.

See your health care provider to get your blood sugar checked. Make healthy food choices. Be more active. Lose weight, if needed. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.

You can manage both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk for complications. Plan meals and make healthy food choices. Stay active. Take your medications as prescribed. Monitor your blood sugar. Attend a self-management education program. If you smoke, quit. Call 1-800-QUITNOW to get more information on smoking cessation.

Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for diabetes to be diagnosed. It is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

As of 2017, 288,000 (10.2%) Kentucky adults had diagnosed prediabetes. 812,000 adults are estimated to have undiagnosed prediabetes. An estimated 1 in 3 adults (33.9% or 1.1 million) have diagnosed or undiagnosed prediabetes. Gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) is also a risk factor for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes can be associated with complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, lower-limb amputation, and ketoacidosis. These conditions can reduce length and quality of life.

World Diabetes Day is observed annually on Nov, 14, to raise awareness about diabetes. Tonight, Daviess County Fiscal Court will read a proclamation designating November 14 as Diabetes Awareness Day in Daviess County, joining the other six Green River District counties (Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, Union, and Webster) in doing so.

Daviess County Diabetes Coalition (DCDC), formed in 1995, will observe its 25th anniversary in 2020. The mission of DCDC is "to improve the lives of people in Daviess County that are affected by or at risk for diabetes."

The vision of "Healthy living for people with or at risk of developing diabetes" positions the coalition as a source of educational information, while at the same time creating awareness about diabetes. If you would like more information about the coalition or like to become involved as a volunteer or board member call 270-852-5549.

To find diabetes prevention or self-management education and support programs in your area, look on the Kentucky Diabetes Resource Directory at

Source: 2019 Kentucky Diabetes Fact Sheet -- Kentucky Department for Public Health & the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program

Merritt Bates-Thomas, RDN, LD, is a population health diabetes specialist Green River District Health Department.

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