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Diabetes prevention efforts kick into high gear in WI/Public News Service

November is National Diabetes Month, highlighting a disease that affects millions of Americans.

In Wisconsin, state health officials say more than 525,000 adults have diabetes and one in three have prediabetes.

Jill Kietzke, registered nurse and executive director of Wisconsin-based Trollway Diabetes, focuses on prevention education. Whether you have been diagnosed or are at risk of developing the disease, many of the same tools for managing your health still apply.

For exercise, Kietzke emphasized that you don’t have to do everything.

“Even if that means walking around the house during TV commercials, lifting cans if they don’t have access to a gym or even [to] buy some weights,” Kietzke advised. “You can still be active.

As for meals, she suggested filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, and at least a quarter with grains, as well as protein.

While there’s no perfect food solution, Kietzke stressed that moderation is key. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a lifestyle change program, according to health experts, that has been successful in helping people avoid diabetes.

A big challenge for people with diabetes is the rising cost of insulin. A recent study found that one in five adults who need insulin ration it to save money.

Dr. Nicole Brady, chief medical officer for employers and individual businesses at UnitedHealthcare, said pharmaceutical companies were setting prices for prescription drugs, including insulin, and a lack of competition could drive up costs. She added that this puts the drug out of reach for many patients.

“A lot of them may even have to make decisions like, ‘Am I going to buy food for my family this week or am I going to spend money on my insulin?’ So that puts them in a very precarious position,” Brady observed.

Edwards noted that diabetes has many facets and people can feel overwhelmed when they find out they have it.

“There’s a new recognition and, really, a lot of movement in healthcare to make sure that when people are newly diagnosed with diabetes, or if they’re struggling to manage their diabetes, we let’s make sure we look at the mental-health-related aspects,” Edwards explained.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our health issue reporting fund. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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