By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

According to the American Diabetes Association, 18.2 million people in the United States have diabetes.

Marissa Vincent works for the Barren River District Health Department. She says: "Basically there's two types of diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2. And Type 1 is generally a disease in young children."

Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune disorder where the body attacks the pancreas- keeping the pancreas from creating insulin.

Type 2 diabetes, or what used to be called adult onset diabetes is generally caused by physical inactivity and obesity. "The problem with it is that we are beginning to see it in our children. So it's no longer a disease of adult onset, but we're seeing it in children due to physical inactivity and the types of diet that children are eating today."

In 2000 diabetes was the sixth leading cause for death in the United States and has been linked directly to heart disease. Losing as little as five percent of a person's body weight has been shown to lessen the chances of getting diabetes.

Vincent says: "We want to promote physical activity leading a more active lifestyle and then just being more aware of what we're eating. Not necessarily tell people foods that they can't have, just watching portion sizes and eating more fruits and vegetables."

Diabetics have to monitor their blood sugar levels and some have to take insulin shots to maintain healthy levels.

Vincent says: "With children it's very difficult for parents to get them to understand that treatment is not a punishment. Many kids feel like they're being punished because they do have to take the shots."

If not treated properly diabetes can lead to vision loss or even amputation. But today's diabetics have many new options for treatment. However Vincent feels prevention is the most important way to battle the disease.

Vincent says: "You can't take a vacation from diabetes once you have it, you have it for life."

For more information, visit the following Web site: www.diabetes.org.

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