EDITORIAL: Awareness of diabetes is growing in Indiana, but that isn’t necessarily leading to results

November is National Diabetes Month, and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) acknowledged that by pointing out the disease is the seventh-leading cause of death in the state. The agency in a news release last week encouraged all Hoosiers to take necessary steps to prevent becoming victims of the disease.

Officials say about 11 percent of adults in Indiana have diabetes. But even more troubling is that number is 37 percent higher than it was in 2005, and another 33 percent of adults in the state have prediabetes — meaning they have blood glucose levels higher than normal. And that means they, too, could become victims.

Something is wrong here.

The bodies of diabetics don’t properly process food for energy. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, helps control glucose levels and helps move glucose from the bloodstream to muscles and liver cells, where it’s stored as fuel. According to Parkview Health, “When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, or it can’t use its insulin as well as it should. This causes glucose to build up in your bloodstream.”

Diabetes is an incurable disease. Type 1, which can’t be prevented, develops when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that make insulin. But 95 percent of diabetics suffer from Type 2, which is associated with various factors, such as obesity and lack of physical activity.

Parkview reports that more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 86 million have prediabetes or are at-risk for developing diabetes. But an alarming percentage of those people don’t even know they are in danger. State Health Commissioner Kris Box says, “Exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco use and getting your blood glucose checked regularly are all important steps toward” preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes, and the ISDH encourages Hoosiers to take a prediabetes screen test that can be found online at https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/prediabetestest.pdf.

And if you are wise enough to be concerned about preventing diabetes, we stand with our local and state health providers in suggesting you also should be wise enough to get checkups, stop smoking, limit your alcohol, give up the junk food and get off the couch before it’s too late.