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Diabetes on the Rise: July 11, 2011

It’s a growing problem in more ways than one. The last quarter century has seen an explosion of diabetes in the U.S.

“Unfortunately it doesn’t surprise me that diabetes is on the rise, with our aging population and with the increased prevalence of obesity,” says Sharon Krispinsky.

Sharon is a certified diabetes educator with Lee Memorial Health System.

“In someone who has the genetic predisposition for developing diabetes, as you gain weight you become more insulin resistant, meaning that you cant use the sugar or glucose in your blood,” says Krispinsky.

A new health survey shows Americans are being diagnosed with diabetes at twice the rate of people in Western Europe. A dangerous trend since diabetes is linked to a multitude of health issues, and its complications can be deadly.

“It can cause multi-symptom organ failure including blindness in the eye, heart disease. It increases your risk of heart attack, kidney disease; it increases your risk of going on dialysis or having kidney failure. You can have low circulation because the high sugar attacks every organ in the body,” says Dr. Aldith Lewis, an internal medicine physician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Despite the sobering statistics, there is hope.

“Research has shown that even with a modest weight loss and regular exercise, and when I say modest weight loss its 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, you could reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent,” says Krispinsky.

So when it comes to lowering the rate of diabetes, the best medicine might be education.

“Through our community outreach programs, we really are trying to get that message across,” says Krispinsky.