November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. On the last Thursday of the month, we gather together with family and friends to share our gratitude for everything life has to offer. We share a meal with turkey and all the fixings, and pumpkin pie and apple cake for dessert. With all that delicious food, who wouldn’t be tempted to help themselves to seconds, even thirds? Nodding off on the sofa with a full belly is nearly ritual on Thanksgiving.
Maybe then it’s fitting that November is also American Diabetes Month. Unlike Thanksgiving, diabetes is nothing to celebrate. Type 2 diabetes is a serious chronic illness that can rob someone of as many as 15 years of life. Complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, glaucoma and loss of vision, amputation, and more can have a severe impact on a diabetic’s quality of life.
And yet, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. For most folks, making healthy choices about diet and exercise is all they need to avoid developing diabetes.
Why then do 9.3 percent of people living in North Carolina – higher than the national average of 6.4 percent – have diabetes?
Why American Diabetes Month is Important
Diabetes month is important because it raises awareness. You might wonder how someone wouldn’t be aware of diabetes, but consider this:
- Approximately 40 percent of North Carolina residents had not been tested for high blood sugar in 2009.
So while only 6.1 percent of residents have a diagnosis of pre-diabetes, that number is likely higher if you factor in that nearly half of people haven’t been tested.
Clearly we need to be having more conversations with each other about getting tested and making healthier choices.
And that’s why American Diabetes month is important. It invites us to have these conversations with our friends and family…maybe even during this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey and all of the healthy fixings.
This year, the theme for American Diabetes month is “Eat Well, America!” You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to start.
Morgan, Maggie, Sarah Downer, and Tiffany Lopinsky. 2014 NORTH CAROLINA STATE REPORT The Diabetes Epidemic in North Carolina: Policies for Moving Forward. Rep. Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation, Harvard Law School, 2014. Web. 4 July 2015. http://www.chlpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/2014-New-Carolina-State-Report-Providing-Access-to-Healthy-Solutions-PATHS.pdf.
“Type 2 Diabetes.” Mayoclinic.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 July 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/basics/complications/con-20031902.