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On Sunday, the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi will hold a walk at the Columbus Riverwalk to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds to support those who suffer from it.
Mississippi ranks second only to West Virginia in the percentage of its citizens who are diabetic (12.7 percent). More than 300,000 Mississippians are diabetic and those numbers continue to grow each year.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes — often called juvenile diabetes — is genetic and incurable. Its symptoms are evident early in childhood. People with type 1 diabetes have to be on insulin for their entire lives.
Type 2 diabetes develops slowly and is overwhelmingly linked to obesity and an inactive lifestyle. Family history, age and ethnicity also play roles.
Fortunately, those with type 2 diabetes can mitigate the effects of the disease — sometimes leading to remission — through improved diet and exercise. Until and if there is remission, type 2 diabetes patients also rely on insulin to maintain sufficient levels of blood sugar.
For the hard-hearted, it is easy to blame type 2 diabetes sufferers by saying they brought it on themselves. But the truth is, symptoms of type 2 diabetes develop slowly and can be confused with other conditions. Obesity doesn’t cause diabetes; it raises the risk factor.
That is why events such as Sunday’s Walk for Diabetes are important. They bring better understanding of the disease, information on how to properly treat its symptoms and provide support and empathy for those who have diabetes. They also give people a reason to be active.
For most of us, diabetes is not an abstract. We have family members, friends and neighbors who are diabetic or may develop diabetes.
This year’s Walk for Diabetes honors former Dispatch sports editor Tom Rysinski, who passed away earlier this year and was a supporter of the walk.
We encourage everyone to turn out for the walk Sunday at the Riverwalk to learn about disease and support the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi through a generous donation.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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