November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Published: Nov. 13, 2018 at 10:15 AM CST
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November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

Health experts say this is a major issue in Louisiana. The American Diabetes Association says more than half a million people in Louisiana are living with diabetes. That's one of the highest rates in the country.

Jen Avis, Certified Diabetes Educator; RD at St. Francis Medical Center, says people can show signs of prediabetes, which is a rise in blood sugar level, but not enough to diagnose diabetes yet. She says this is important because prediabetes can be reversed with a healthy lifestyle. Avis says the problem is that 9 out of 10 people don't know they're prediabetic.

Avis says it's important to have your blood sugar level checked at your annual wellness appointment. She says watching your weight, cutting out as much sugar from your diet as possible, and exercising can help, but those are things many people in Louisiana struggle with.

"Diabetes in the state of Louisiana is an epidemic. It's an epidemic across the nation,” Avis says. “We have a high obesity rate and we drink sweet tea, we drink regular cokes and soft drinks, and we're high on juices too."

The American Diabetes Association says diabetes costs the state about $5.4 billion a year because of the different conditions it can bring, such as heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

Luckily, Avis says it's something that can be managed.

"There's no reason for someone not to manage their diabetes. With all the great medications that we have and everything we know about nutrition, you should be able to manage it. But if you don't, you're not going to avoid the ill effects of diabetes," she warns.

Avis says the healthy lifestyle change could be as simple as not drinking sodas and parking farther away at the grocery store to take some extra steps.