MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A new national study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association shows that diabetes is increasing in the 18 to 34 age group. That same study also said that that age group is experiencing the greatest growth in obesity rates, which is an onset of diabetes.
"As a nation we have less and less P.E. in our schools, we have more and more video games, we have more sedentary jobs, we have food on every corner, for some people. We don't train our children to drink water. They're trained to drink coke, soda, and juice. Lots of calories with less movement equals increased weight and that's probably one of the leading factors for us," said Pamela Green, manager of the Center for Diabetes at the Baptist Health Center for Well Being
The BCBSA study went on to say that diabetes is more prevalent in the Southeast and Central South communities.
"We enjoy very rich calorie foods. We drink a lot of sugary beverages, and I know a lot of the Northern states, they get more physical activity. Maybe because we're so hot down here and that slows us down just a little bit," said Green. "I think part of it is our heritage and our richness of our foods, and the fact that we enjoy those fried foods, and not moving around. We gain a lot of weight."
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, one in every 400 to 600 school age children has diabetes, and it is estimated that one out of every three children born in the United States in the year 2000 will develop diabetes during their lifetime.
When Leslee Wientjes' daughter was diagnosed with diabetes at six years old, she said she was devastated.
"It was a life changing event for our family as a whole. We all had to learn to make the changes with our diet. We had to learn to give her medication correctly, and check her blood sugar," said Wientjes.
The ADPH said that exercising five or more times a week for 30 minutes a day, checking your blood sugar, and changing your diet are good ways to control diabetes.
The symptoms to look out for are extreme thirst, increased appetite, frequent urination, little to no energy, rapid weight loss, and nausea or vomiting.
"She lost weight very rapidly. Frequent urination and increased thirst. She was complaining of stomach cramps, but the thing that I noticed mostly was the weight loss, it was a significant change," said Wientjes.
Her daughter had Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes was previously called juvenile-onset diabetes, and only 10 percent of all diabetes cases are Type 1. Doctors believe Type 1 diabetes to be genetic or caused by contracting certain viruses, and it usually occurs in children or young adults who are thin or normal weight for their height.
Type 2 diabetes was previously called adult-onset diabetes, and 90 percent of all diabetes cases are Type 2. According to doctors, it is not a genetic disorder and usually occurs in those who have high blood pressure or who are overweight.
The Alabama Department of Public Health states that an estimated 29.1 million people, or 9.3 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes, and of those 29.1 million people, 8.1 million don't know they have it. Diabetes is currently the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and in Alabama, and they estimate that by 2030 diabetes it will become the seventh leading cause of death in the world.