Diabetes is a major health crisis

By Dr. Broderick Rhyant, Chief Physician Executive, Eskenazi Health Center Forest Manor

Diabetes has become a significant and growing health concern across the country. There is rarely a day that goes by that I am not faced with a patient asking me about diabetes and its health impact.

The most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, is closely linked to obesity. An estimated 90 to 95 percent of new diabetes cases are type 2, as opposed to type 1 diabetes or juvenile diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a result of the body’s inability to make enough insulin.

Some of the primary causes of this rise are people’s diet and lifestyle choices. One issue that has compounded the problem is the increased move to more quick meals on the go. Over the past two decades, this has played a major role in the rise of obesity and, consequently, diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that 29.1 million Americans, or about 9 percent of the population, have diabetes. Overall, one in 10 U.S. adults, or 10 percent, have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 6 percent who have experienced cancer, the ADA reports. 

These numbers do not include those with a condition known as “Prediabetes”.  Prediabetes is a condition where an individual blood sugars are higher than average but not high enough to be considered a diabetes.  It is extremely common condition. The CDC estimates that as many as a third of Americans or roughly 84 million people have Prediabetes. There are simple things one can do to decrease prediabetes developing into diabetes such as:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Exercise/move more
  3. Eat healthier foods

Recently, I was thrilled to hear about a new effort in our city aimed at reducing diabetes. Eskenazi Health, along with Eli Lilly Company, Indiana University’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and other community partners announced the launch of a new $7 million, five-year neighborhood-based, data-driven pilot program in Indianapolis to help address the high incidence of diabetes.

Data from the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health shows that there are neighborhoods in central Indiana that have some of the most significant health disparities and highest incidence of diabetes in the country. In these neighborhoods projected rates of diabetes range between 17 and 20 percent. This is 1.5 to 2 times that of the national and global averages.

Through the new partnership I mentioned above, an effort has begun to combat the issue of diabetes in the neighborhoods surrounding three Eskenazi Health neighborhood health centers. Six full-time community health workers will be hired specifically for this effort and these individuals will be hired from within these communities. 

One of the three centers taking part in the pilot program includes Eskenazi Health Center Forest Manor serving the Coalition of Northeast Neighborhoods. This is where I see patients. For more information on diabetes and the services Eskenazi Health provides, please call us at 317.880.7666.

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