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Report: Left Unchecked, Diabetes Will Cost NC Billions

A picture of insulin vials and a syringe.
.:[ Melissa ]:.

A report from Harvard University says one-in-10 North Carolinians has diabetes, and that the disease will cost the state $17 billion per year by 2025.

Sarah Downer is a fellow at Harvard's Health Law and Policy Clinic. She said limited access to healthcare, nutritious foods and safe places to exercise are dangerous to communities.

North Carolina has the fifth highest rate of food insecurity, meaning people don't have regular access to nutritious meals. The state also ranks fifth for early childhood obesity.

“We know that kids who are obese or overweight by age 6 have almost a 50 percent likelihood that they'll be obese as adults. So, that's really worrying because obesity and diabetes are so closely linked.”

Downer says communities need to take action to help people lead healthier lives.

“We're giving them this list of instructions, you know: 'Go eat healthier, exercise more, think about all these other things.' And then they're going out into their environments and they're not able to find healthy food. They're not able to get to stores that sell it, and their neighborhoods, perhaps, are not safe for going out and engaging in physical activity.”

Downer says the report is meant to help communities and groups prioritize how they'll take action.

The Reynolds Trust says it will donate $200,000 to the YMCA of Western North Carolina to expand a diabetes program that has helped nearly 200 adults in McDowell County lose weight.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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