Meridian Star

April 24, 2013

Learning to live and fight diabetes

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Millions of Americans are coping with diabetes and many more will be facing that disease in the near future.

    The Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi, along with a host of Meridian sponsors, held the "Meridian Diabetes Awareness Day" Tuesday at the East Mississippi Electric Power Association on Highway 39 North. Admission was free to the public and judging by the turnout the public was more than ready to learn more about diabetes.

    "Diabetes is growing in our population and we wanted to provide the community with as much information and education as we could to try and stem the tide," said Irena McClain, associate director for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi. "Representatives from medical and pharmaceutical companies will be on site to showcase the latest diabetes-management products."

    Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin.

    Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.

    Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Millions of Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and many more are unaware they are at high risk. Some groups have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

    In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin.

    More than 25 million children and adults in the United States—8.3 percent of the population—have diabetes.

    There were representatives from area hospitals, pharmacies and diabetes supply companies on hand for participants to talk to and learn more about the disease. McClain said those attending could get a free blood screening and blood pressure checkup.

    "People who have diabetes need to learn how to live a kind of lifestyle that promotes good health while others need to know how to prevent getting diabetes," said McClain. "We brought in a group of experts to help."