Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said it takes a self-care plan, including a healthy lifestyle and dietary changes.
Rodgers explained diabetes is the condition of a person’s blood glucose level being too high, and it is on the rise in Arkansas. He pointed out the disease affects about 37 million Americans, roughly 11% of the U.S. population.
“The State of Arkansas, the prevalence is higher, it’s about 12.4%,” Rodgers noted. “Arkansas is the fifth-highest in terms of the ranking in the U.S. of states in terms of the prevalence of diabetes. What seems to be driving this high number, both in Arkansas and other states, is the prevalence of obesity.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 300,000 Arkansans have been diagnosed with diabetes. Rodgers emphasized if left untreated, the condition becomes more serious over time, causing such health problems as heart disease, nerve damage, vision problems and kidney disease.
In prediabetes, a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but have not spiked high enough to be diagnosed as Type Two diabetes. Rodgers stressed the risk factors are the same, including obesity and a family history of diabetes. He noted a self-care plan is mostly common sense, and should include regular doctor visits.
“Diet to try to reduce your weight by 5% to 7% can greatly reduce your risk of going from prediabetes, to diabetes,” Rodgers advised. “And the exercise, for example, is walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week. And decreasing the amount of calories and eating low-fat and low-salt foods.”
He recommended setting goals to manage what he calls the “ABCs of Diabetes.” ‘A’ stands for A1C, the test to measure your blood sugar. The number to aim for is below 7%. ‘B’ is for blood pressure, which should be around 140/90 or less, and ‘C’ is a reminder to maintain normal cholesterol levels.