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Type 2 diabetes a growing problem

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When John Poer’s doctor told him he could lose body parts, it was enough to get his attention.

“It was not like someone told me I had cancer and I had six months to live, but it was quite a shock,” he said.

His doctor gave a graphic description of what could happen if he didn’t manage living with diabetes adequately.

“We’ll probably start with your feet and work our way up your legs with amputations, your hands will probably go somewhere along the line, oh, and you’re going to go blind too in this process,” Poer recalled him saying.

The other option was to make some slight lifestyle changes, which Poer decided to do.

It has been 20 years since he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Despite more resources and better education over the years, for health professionals, it seems like the problem is actually worse.

“It’s growing everywhere. North Carolina has a huge population of diabetes, type 2 diabetes. It’s growing,” Judy Osborne, registered nurse at UNC Regional Physicians Diabetes Health & Wellness, said.

Her team sees patients through referrals, but also goes into the community.

"We go out into seven other offices, physician offices, and we actually see patients in their office. It makes  it a lot more convenient for them,” she said.

The goal is to teach patients how to manage diabetes on a daily basis — from food choices and treatment options to glucose monitoring.

“We’re trying to teach people a healthier way to eat number one,” Osborne said.

Addressing type 2 diabetes in the Triad isn’t just a management issue; it’s a matter of prevention.

“15 to 30 percent of people that are prediabetic will develop diabetes within three to five years,” Tracie Heavner, director of the diabetes prevention program for the YMCA of Greensboro, said.

Participants in the YMCA’s diabetes prevention program are required to make a one-year commitment to learn how to make lifestyle changes.

“Our program in Greensboro is really doing very well. We are surpassing all of our national averages. We have nine classes going on right now. Our participants have lost 491 pounds,” Heavner said.

The program is open to everyone, not just YMCA members.

It is expanding to Alamance and Davidson counties.

UNC Regional’s Health & Wellness Center in High Point offers a prediabetes program that does not require a referral.

Visit the following links for more information on both programs: