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Tennessee continues to battle high diabetes rate

By Stephanie Carson • Jan 2, 2018 at 9:23 PM

NASHVILLE – With most folks’ diets a bit upside down this holiday season with parties and family dinners, the Tennessee Department of Health reminds 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, said 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 said.

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 said 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 said 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 said.

For anyone who’s 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.

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