Health advocates believe a growing number of local prevention programs will help reduce the number of Kentuckians who suffer with diabetes.
The incidence of diabetes across Kentucky has tripled since 1995. Over a tenth of the state’s population is diagnosed with the disease and thousands more have diabetes but don’t know it. Stewart Perry, who's with the American Diabetes Association, laid out a bleak picture before a Senate committee.
“It is going to bankrupt us. It is going to kill us and you saw the statistic that said one in three adults will have diabetes by 2050. In communities of color, that’s one in two. It is exceedingly something that we have to deal with,” said Perry.
Legislation approved in 2011 paved the way for local diabetes prevention programs. Dr. Connie White with the State Department of Public Health says common sense can prevent diabetes, but a group can provide important support.
“It’s changing your lifestyle and changing the way you eat and increasing your steps, but it isn’t going from a size 18 to a size two. It’s just being smart about what you do and you do it in a group setting with your peers, so you are rooting for each other,” said White.
White admits, after witnessing the poor health of relatives who suffer with diabetes, many patients improve their lifestyles.
Diabetes Prevention Programs are currently available in Lexington, Louisville, Northern Kentucky, near Ashland and in southeast Kentucky. State Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Haynes predicts the number of programs will grow over the next several months.
“It’s not to look for general fund dollars and others to reimburse. It’s to try and find third party payer sources to reimburse, so it becomes part of our health care benefit,” explained Haynes.
While many diabetes prevention programs are associated with the YMCA, Haynes says it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, White says they could be established in hospitals where exercise equipment is available.