Diabetes Prevention and Management

By Rhonda L. Hill, PhD, MCHES, DHEC Director of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Healthdiabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, which is a great time to understand the impact of diabetes in S.C. and how to prevent and manage this chronic disease. Diabetes is diagnosed when a person’s body does not make enough insulin or cannot properly use insulin (insulin is a hormone needed to turn food into energy).

There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes is when your body does not make insulin. This is a problem because you need insulin to take the sugar (glucose) from the foods you eat and turn it into energy for your body. You need to take insulin every day to live.
  • Type 2 diabetes is when your body does not make or use insulin well. You may need to take pills or insulin to help control your diabetes. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when women are pregnant. Most of the time, it goes away after the baby is born. But even if it goes away, these women and their children have a greater chance of getting diabetes later in life.

Diabetes in S.C. and the U.S.

South Carolina ranks 4th highest in the nation in the percent of the adult population with diabetes. Approximately 1 in 6 African-Americans in S.C. has diabetes and S.C. has the 3rd highest rate of diabetes among African-Americans in the nation. Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age and a dramatic increase can be seen among those 45 years of age and older. Diabetes affects nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. today—nearly 10 percent of the population. Recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes by 2050 unless we take steps to Stop Diabetes®.

Risk Factors for Diabetes

Risk factors for diabetes include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.  Complete the diabetes risk assessment test to determine your risk status.

Personal and Economic Impact of Diabetes

About 81 percent of adults with diabetes have high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes and amputations. Diabetes can affect many parts of your body, including your:

  • Heart – Increases your risk of having a heart attack
  • Eyes – Worsens your eyesight and may lead to blindness
  • Mouth – Increases your risk of dental and gum disease
  • Kidneys – Can lead to kidney failure requiring dialysis
  • Feet – Can decrease blood circulation to lower extremities, which can result in leg or foot amputations
  • Nerves – Can damage nerves, affecting many parts of the body
  • Genital organs – Can cause sexual problems
  • Brain – Can lead to a stroke

However, by lowering your blood sugar levels, you can prevent or delay these complications. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is $245 billion and the direct medical costs reach $176 billion. The average medical expenditure among people with diabetes is more than two times higher than those without the disease and indirect costs amount to $69 billion (disability, work loss, premature mortality). One in 10 health care dollars is spent treating diabetes and its complications.

Resources to Help You Prevent and Manage Diabetes

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