November 9, 2006

WEALTH Group Recognizes November as Diabetes Awareness Month

What is diabetes? It is a chronic disease in which the body does not use properly or make insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert glucose and other foods into energy.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, which destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas that regulate blood glucose. It has a sudden onset that can occur at any age but most often occurs in children and young adults. This type accounts for five to 10% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes but is the leading cause in children diagnosed with the disease.

Type 2 usually begins with the pancreas producing more insulin to compensate for an inadequate response to the insulin produced initially. But after several years of this response insulin production may decrease and diabetes develops. This type of diabetes occurred mainly in overweight 40 years or older adults. As more children and adolescents become overweight and less active we are seeing more type 2 diabetics in young people. This type of diabetes usually develops slowly. The symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2 are very similar. They can include thirst, tired feeling, nausea and frequent urination. There may also be weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections and slow healing of wounds or sores. Some children with Type 2 diabetes have no symptoms at all while others may have vaginal yeast infections or burning upon urination.

Currently, because 10 to 15 percent of children and teens are overweight about double the number of two decades ago increasing numbers of young people have type 2 diabetes. Several clinic based studies have shown the percentage of children with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes to have increased from less than 5% before 1994 to 30 to 50% in subsequent years. This statistic is staggering and only involves children.

Of all people 20 years and older 9.6% have diabetes. Of all adults 60 years or older 20.9% have diabetes. Diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death in 2002. Diabetes is likely to be under reported as a cause of death. Studies show that only about 35 to 40% of decedents with diabetes have diabetes listed on their death certificate.

This is a growing problem and we encourage periodic screening, especially for those with a family history, a BMI greater than 85% for age and sex; weight for height greater than 85% or weight greater than 120% ideal for height or any signs and symptoms of insulin resistance.

The W.E.A.L.T.H. (We Advocate a Lifestyle Thats Healthy) Group, a chronic disease support and informational group in cooperation with Scotland County Health Department and Healthy For Life will be doing free fasting blood sugars at Js Foods on Saturday, November 11, from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. We ask that you please fast for at least eight hours prior to the fingerstick blood test.

The W.E.A.L.T.H. Group welcomes anyone who is interested to join them at their monthly meeting. Due to the holidays they will not have a regular monthly meeting until January 16, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. at the Scotland County Health Department. Hope to see you there.

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