A new report shows diabetes is on the rise nationwide, with the disease already impacting nearly 30 percent of residents across the Rio Grande Valley. Research from the Journal of the American Medical Association released Tuesday shows half of Americans now have diabetes, or blood sugar so high they are almost diabetic.
While 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 22 percent of non-Hispanic blacks were diagnosed with the disease, Hispanics led all groups with 22.6 percent.
Belinda Reininger with the University of Texas Health Science Center in Brownsville said 28 percent of residents in the Valley have diabetes. She also said only a third of individuals are diagnosed.
Healthy eating and 30 minutes of exercise each day is key in preventing and controlling the disease, Reininger said. Frequent urination, fatigue and unexplained weight loss are all symptoms.
Blood sugar readings over 100 signifies pre-diabetes and anyone with blood sugar readings over 126 have the disease.
Risk factors in the Valley include diet, a low income and lack of health insurance, Reininger said. She also said a lot of south Texas residents who have pre-diabetes are not getting checked, which causes it to develop into the disease.
For those with pre-diabetes, Reininger said losing five to 10 percent body weight can get someone out of the danger zone.
About 71,000 people die from diabetes each year.
The UT Health Center in Brownsville offers several programs to help those diagnosed live long, healthy lives by offering cooking, educational and prescription tutoring.