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Greatest Threat




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Take the American Diabetes Association Diabetes Risk Test! (click)


As many as 26 million Americans have diabetes. More than one third are unaware that they have the disease. Another 54 million Americans suffer from elevated blood sugar, a condition that leads to diabetes. No wonder some health care professionals call diabetes an epidemic.

In Idaho, 8% of the population has diabetes. There are three times as many diabetes cases in overweight people than in people who aren't overweight. In the five northern counties in the Panhandle Health District, 7.3% of adults say they've been told they have diabetes.

In Idaho, 61.3% of adults are overweight with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25. One in 4--25.1%--of Idahoans are obese with a BMI greater than 30.

Want to check your BMI? Click on BMI Calculator.

What is diabetes?

The body's inability to regulate blood sugar can cause two different types of diabetes. The body regulates blood sugar with insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas. Type I diabetes starts during childhood when something goes wrong in the body and the immune system starts attacking and destroying the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.                                              

Type II diabetes starts as an adult and is triggered by an inactive lifestyle that leads to significant weight gain. In Idaho, 58 percent of the population is overweight or obese.


Is diabetes preventable?

There is no known method at this time to prevent Type I diabetes. Studies have found that lifestyle changes and medications have been successful in preventing Type II diabetes. Reducing weight by 5 to 7 percent along with moderate, regular exercise and a low-fat, low-calorie diet can cut a person's risk of developing Type II diabetes nearly in half.


What does diabetes do to the body?

Uncontrolled, diabetes can damage major organs. Complications can lead to nerve damage, blindness, kidney failure and amputation. Diabetes is also considered a key risk for heart disease. For a look at how diabetes affects your body, click here. Knowing your diabetes ABCs can help keep diabetes in control: A for A1C or your blood glucose level; B for blood pressure; and C for cholesterol. Having a doctor regularly check your feet and eyes also can help prevent complications.


What is Idaho doing to help the diabetes "epidemic"?

Idaho created the Idaho Diabetes State Plan, a five-year project, in 2008. The plan addresses quality and access to care, prevention and public policy. The state contracts with health districts to meet the plan's objectives. In the five northern counties, the Panhandle Health District participates in the North Idaho Diabetes Partnership Coalition with:

  • University of Idaho Extension
  • Kootenai Health
  • North Idaho Head Start
  • Dirne Community Clinic
  • Kaniksu Health Services
  • Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
  • American Diabetes Association
  • Kootenai Endocrinology and Diabetes Center
  • Helbling Employee Benefits

The University of Idaho Extension in Coeur d'Alene offers a "Healthy Eating with Diabetes" program. The 12-hour program meets four times and covers these topics:

  • Why Control is Important, Heart Healthy, The Idaho Plate Method
  • The Supermarket Tour
  • Planning Meals, Resources Available to You

For more information, click on Healthy Eating with Diabetes.

For classes and special presentations scheduled on diabetes, click on Classes Scheduled.

The coalition is working to compile on an online diabetes resource list with links to medical care, diabetes self-management education, patient information and health programs such as smoking cessation, nutrition and physical activity.

Want to know more? Call or e-mail Whitney Fehringer, PHD's diabetes program coordinator, at (208) 415-5140 or

Here are some great resources to use for yourself and to share with groups:

Here are links to good information on diabetes:

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