Prediabetes doubles in children, affordability of fresh food a factor

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 6:44 PM CDT
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MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - A study shows children ages 12 to 19 years living with prediabetes more than doubled from 1999 to 2018.

Prediabetics are more prone to developing Type II Diabetes, which can lead to heart disease.

A Mississippi County Health Officer believes multiple factors such as the lack of fresh meat and produce can play a factor in the increase of blood sugar.

“We have a large population who cannot get to the grocery stores or stores that have good and healthy foods,” Dr. Valencia Andrews-Pirtle said, “particularly fruits and vegetables, so they’re eating more carbohydrates.”

Dr. Andrews-Pirtle added many children develop diabetes because of the high cortisol levels after dealing with traumatic situations, also known as Adverse Childhood Events (ACE).

The high cortisol levels raise one’s blood sugar and blood pressure.

Families who are living with diabetes often are having to choose between their insulin and food, sometimes making the switch to canned goods.

“It’s over $300 just for one pen,” Michelle Lee said.

Lee is a nurse who has been living with Type II Diabetes for over 10 years.

She said the price of insulin has skyrocketed since then, adding she spends “over $2500 for a year.”

Over 15% of diabetic patients at East Arkansas Family Health in Blytheville cannot afford insulin, which leads to long-term health issues like kidney disease.

“It makes you want to cry because they really need it,” Lee said. “Some of them are pretty bad.”

Lee and Dr. Andrews-Pirtle have been working with patients to educate them on how to prevent getting diabetes or further damage from the disease by figuring out “what they can and maybe can’t afford to do,” and how they can get the help they need at an affordable cost.

Lee recommends cutting out sugary foods and drinks and getting more exercise as a small step to preventing and controlling the disease.

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