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Groups Target Diabetes Among Hungry Kentuckians

More than 100,000 Kentuckians are believed to have diabetes but not know it. (TesaPhotography/Pixabay)
More than 100,000 Kentuckians are believed to have diabetes but not know it. (TesaPhotography/Pixabay)
November 21, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. – While helping to reduce hunger throughout the state, some advocacy groups also are spreading the word about how to avoid an all too common disease.

The American Diabetes Association, the Kentucky Association of Food Banks and Passport Health Plan are working to educate families served by food banks about how they can best prevent and manage Type 2 diabetes.

Kirsten Rowland, associate state director of the American Diabetes Association in Kentucky, says about 108,000 people in the state have diabetes and don't know it, which greatly increases their health risk. Additionally, more than 1 million have pre-diabetes.

"That's a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes,” Rowland explains. “That's an important group that we want to educate to become aware of how they can reduce their risk."

Rowland says food insecurity can make it even more challenging to manage a complex chronic disease such as diabetes.

It's estimated that 40 percent of families served by a food bank in Kentucky have at least one member with diabetes.

The organizations are passing out educational materials about diabetes detection, management and prevention.

Rowland says they're also talking with food bank workers and clients about how to eat on a budget and make healthy food choices.

"When it comes to diabetes, we talk about sugar a lot, but this time we've also talked about reducing your salt intake and all of those just add up to other complications when it comes to diabetes and other health related issues," she explains.

Close to 600,000 Kentuckians live with diabetes, and Rowland adds that working with the food bank system is a natural fit because it serves thousands of people who may not otherwise have access to information on diabetes prevention.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY