Study predicts dramatic rise in diabetes, but it’s not too late for prevention

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(KPLC) – Diabetes could affect more than 1.3 billion people around the world by 2050, according to a new study. In 2021, Louisiana numbers show nearly 10 percent of people were at risk.

Louisiana is 33 percent higher than the national average when it comes to the number of adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.

Endocrinologist Timothy Gilbert told us what he sees with patients who visit his office daily.

“We probably see 30 to 40 patients a day that have diabetes in the practice, but in Louisiana as a whole, somewhere between 10 and 12 percent of the Louisiana population roughly has diabetes, and 90 to 95 percent of that is type 2 diabetes and roughly five percent or so, give or take, would be type 1 diabetes,” he said.

One of Dr. Gilbert’s patients, Larry Adair, has lived with diabetes for 20 years.

“I was doing a physical for my job one day and they told me my blood sugar was like 200, and that’s not really normal. They told me I needed to go see my regular doctor, and that’s when diabetes started with me,” Adair said.

This is not out of the ordinary – Gilbert said that’s how most patients find out. The most dangerous part is not doing anything about it until complications kick in.

“One thing I try to reinforce in my patients is once you start developing complications, oftentimes we aren’t able to reverse those complications,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert gave some measures you can take for prevention and after you’ve been diagnosed.

“Physical activity, at least 150 to 200 minutes a week of activity. And I’m a big believer of splitting that – half cardiovascular, and half strength training, and obviously dietary approaches are huge,” he said.

Adair said that advice has been lifesaving.

“In the time that I’ve seen Dr. Gilbert, I’ve lost 40 pounds doing the exercise riding the bicycle 5 miles. Exercise has really helped. I feel so much better, and I don’t hurt anywhere,” he said.

For him, diabetes is a diagnosis but not a death sentence.

“You got to keep going. Don’t quit. In the long run, it’s going to get better,” Adair said.

Gilbert said cases of type 2 diabetes can be reversed – the key is to do your annual checkups. Not doing so can lead to kidney failure, amputation and other severe complications.

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