COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The West Central Health District is hosting a diabetes prevention program in light of National Diabetes Awareness Month and is inviting locals to participate.

According to the West Central Health District, almost 1 million in Georgia have been diagnosed with diabetes and over 230,000 people have diabetes and do not know.

The West Central Health District says the rate of diabetes has increased to almost 20% in Georgia since 2006, when 9.7% of adults had the disease compared to 11.4% in 2016.

There are also over 2 million Georgia who are pre-diabetic, which can be prevented from becoming full-blown diabetes through weight loss, increased physical activity and better nutrition.

“A significant part of our population falls into the risk category for developing prediabetes,” said West Central Health District Nutrition Services Director LaTrice Johnson.

“If we can teach our residents how to make certain lifestyle changes, that can have a major impact on their health and lower the number of people who are now at risk.”

So, What are Pre-diabetes and Diabetes?

The West Central Health District says that pre-diabetes indicates that blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Pre-diabetes. can eventually lead to heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of diabetes. Luckily, pre-diabetes can be prevented or reversed.

Diabetes, West Central Health District says, mainly affects the pancreas’ ability to create insulin, which helps regulate glucose levels in the blood. When having diabetes one of three situations will occur:

  • The pancreas may not produce enough insulin for the entire body.
  • The body rejects the insulin that is produced.
  • The pancreas may not produce any insulin at all.

Type 2 diabetes consists of the body not having the ability to properly use insulin. The West Central Health District said that anyone can get type 2 diabetes at any age, but individuals who are older, overweight, have a family history of diabetes, are not physically active, or a woman with gestational diabetes.

The West Central Health District is offering a free CDC-recognized lifestyle change program, which the health district says is one of the most effective ways to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Losing weight, increasing physical activity, and making more nutritious everyday meals, which can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, are included in the program.

The next class for the programs is scheduled for January 2024 and is open to anyone 18 years or older who does not have diabetes.

Each class lasts one hours and interested individuals will need to meet at the West Central Health District’s 2100 Comer Avenue location once a week for six months and then once a month for the an additional six months. Classes are limited to 12 individuals.

For more information about the program or to signup, visit West Central Health District’s Diabetes Prevention Program page.