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Nearly half of Fresno County adults show early signs of diabetes, UCLA study says

Framed by Eleanor Castro's legs, Andrea Moreno, center, and Eleanor Verdugo work out in an exercise class at the Fresno American Indian Health Project in April 2015, which utilizes a plan to help patients prevent diabetes and for those diagnosed with diabetes to keep it under control.
Framed by Eleanor Castro's legs, Andrea Moreno, center, and Eleanor Verdugo work out in an exercise class at the Fresno American Indian Health Project in April 2015, which utilizes a plan to help patients prevent diabetes and for those diagnosed with diabetes to keep it under control. THE FRESNO BEE

Nearly half of the adults in Fresno County are on the path to diabetes, according to a new report.

The San Joaquin Valley has more young adults with prediabetes than any other part of the state, with 37 percent of people ages 18 to 39 having high blood sugar levels.

A majority of Californians have prediabetes or diabetes, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research report released Thursday. Nine percent of adults in the state have been diagnosed with the disease, which can lead to blindness, amputations and other implications, while 46 percent have prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes.

In Fresno County, 49 percent of adults are prediabetic. In Kern County, 45 percent of adults have prediabetes; Tulare County, 44 percent; Merced, 46 percent; Kings, 48 percent; and Madera, 45 percent.

The report also shows rates of prediabetes are disproportionately high among people of color in California, with rates among black, Pacific Islander and Native American people at least 50 percent. Forty-eight percent of white adults in the state have prediabetes.

Nationally, the disease has nearly tripled over the past 30 years but is often preventable and reversible. Losing 5 to 7 percent of total body weight and exercising 30 minutes per day can reduce diabetes risk by up to 58 percent, according to the report.

The report calls for state policy changes that would help drive down the rates of the disease, including a tax on soda: Sweetened beverages are a leading contributor to diabetes and are specially marketed to low-income communities, according to the report.

“With limited availability of healthy food in low-income communities, a preponderance of soda and junk food marketing, and urban neighborhoods lacking safe places to play, we have created a world where diabetes is the natural consequence,” said Dr. Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, which commissioned the report.

Mackenzie Mays: 559-441-6412, @MackenzieMays

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