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TN Continues to Battle High Rates of Diabetes

Experts recommend a reduction in eating sweets and maintaining a healthy weight as ways to prevent diabetes. (Puno 3000/flickr)
Experts recommend a reduction in eating sweets and maintaining a healthy weight as ways to prevent diabetes. (Puno 3000/flickr)
December 26, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With most folks' diets a bit upside down this holiday season with parties and family dinners, the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is reminding people about the importance of diabetes prevention.

The Volunteer State has the fifth highest percentage of adults with diabetes in the country, with a little more than one in 10 adults having Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Michelle Fiscus, deputy medical director of the Division of Family Health and Wellness at the Tennessee Department of Health, says the state's culture of rich and fried foods doesn't do us any favors.

"Diabetes is a very significant problem in Tennessee, and we can see families that generationally have diabetes because of cultural influences on their diet, cultural influences on whether or not they are physically active," she points out.

Diabetes is a chronic disease affecting how the body uses insulin to process sugar. Over time, too much sugar can cause vision loss and kidney disease.

Fiscus says to reduce your risk, talk to your doctor about diet changes, maintain a healthy weight and increase your amount of fruits and vegetables and physical activity.

Fiscus says the best medicine is changes that can be made without heading to the doctor.

"We can't change our genetics, so the things that people can do most easily are to try to make healthy food choices, increase their fruits and vegetables, decrease the amount of sugar that they have in their diet, so limiting sweets," she states.

If you've already been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, the TDH offers free six-week management programs around the state.

According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes spend almost $14,000 a year for medical expenses, with almost half attributed to their illness.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN