Alabama ranked as third highest among states to see fastest increase of diabetes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A new report puts Alabama as third among the states expected to see the fastest increase in the rate of residents with diabetes and certified diabetes instructor Jessica Fountain said that it is important to know what the disease is.

The numbers in the new study are by a psychological social community,, an education and informative site. It analyzed data from the Institute of Alternative Futures, which has projected diabetes rates by state and major metro in the U.S. up to 2030. Their numbers say that American’s diabetes rate will increase by 38 percent over the next decade and approximately 18.3 percent of the population of Alabama will have diabetes.

Fountain said that there are several risk factors that people need to know about when it comes to diabetes.

“There are several risk factors for putting someone at risk for developing diabetes,” Fountain said. “Certainly a family history, even if it is not a strong family history. If a woman has gestational diabetes they could be at risk for diabetes, a baby over nine pounds, if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, your race puts you at risk for developing diabetes, if you are over 45 and if you smoke. Those are just a few, but if you even have one of those factors, then you need to see your doctor.”

All of those risk factors are not included in the type of lifestyle a person might live, Fountain said.

“If you eat an unhealthy diet, then that puts you at risk,” Fountain said. “All of those other things have nothing to do with the type of lifestyle a person might live.”

Even though a person might not feel like they have diabetes, Fountain said that the symptoms might go unnoticed.

“A lot of the times, a person might feel like nothing is wrong,” Fountain said. “Your kidneys are not going to knock on your back and scream at you that something is wrong. The symptoms might not even come all at once. It may just leave the patient feeling yucky all of the time or tired. They may be very thirsty, urinating way to frequently, be very angry, tired, nauseated, have dry skin, headaches and unintended weight loss.”

Of the top 10 states with the highest projected increases, eight were in the South. The CDC says that areas with lower levels of education and higher obesity rates tend to have higher rates of diabetes.

Fountain said that another reason Alabama is at the top of the list is because of the lifestyle Alabamians live.

“It is hot down here and we don’t exercise correctly or enough,” Fountain said. “There is also a high poverty rate in Alabama. So, that gives people an excuse not to exercise or eat healthy. They say that they can’t afford a gym. So, they won’t exercise. They say that they can’t afford healthy food. So, they will go to McDonald’s. Another thing is that the South’s cooking leans towards a fattier style of cooking. We have lots of fried foods, desserts and sugar added to our meals.”

She said that Covington County is at risk for developing diabetes because there is not a specialized endocrinologist near the county.

“Another reason there is a risk of uncontrolled diabetes is that it takes about an hour and a half to see somebody that is specialized in this disease,” Fountain said. “That is why I teach my classes so people can be educated to seek help, be able to take medication properly and notice the symptoms.”

According to the American Diabetes Association, the condition is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. with 79,535 death certificates listing it as the underlying cause of death, and a total of 252,806 death certificates listing diabetes as an underlying or contributing cause of death, as of 2015. As of 2017, Americans spent $327 billion in healthcare costs related to diabetes.