Diabetes on the Rise in North Texas

Someone checks their blood sugar | Image by Lark Health

As the medical community continues to assess the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, experts in North Texas are warning of a surge in diabetes left in its wake.

According to doctors at Parkland Hospital, diabetes cases have been on the rise, and COVID-19 and the corresponding lockdowns are at least partly responsible.

​The disease comes in two forms. Type 1 diabetes is genetically inherited. Cells in the pancreas are attacked by the body, preventing insulin production. Type 2, on the other hand, typically manifests as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle, mainly poor eating habits and insufficient physical activity.

Type 2 is by far the more common form, accounting for 90% of all diabetes diagnoses.

In a press release in March, Parkland Hospital stated, “New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) … points out that children who recover from COVID-19 are more likely to develop type 1 diabetes after infection than those without COVID-19.”

The CDC found that people aged 18 and younger with COVID-19 were more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes 30 days after infection than those who had not contracted the virus.

“SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with worsening of diabetes symptoms, and persons with diabetes are at increased risk for severe COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 infection might also induce newly diagnosed diabetes,” according to the CDC.

​Still, the study was not without its limitations, including its inability to “reliably distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.”

Diabetes affects roughly 2.6 million people in Texas, officially. It is suspected that another 621,000 Texans have the disorder but have yet to be diagnosed. Additionally, over one-third of the state suffers from pre-diabetes, a “serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes,” according to the CDC.

Being overweight or obese is a critical factor in developing Type 2 diabetes. Steadily growing rates of obesity have been plaguing the United States for years now, even before the pandemic, a trend that has not escaped the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which was ranked the 19th fattest metro area last year, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

The pandemic further helped drive up rates of Type 2 diabetes by restricting movement, limiting access to medical facilities, and broadly encouraging less healthy lifestyles while secluded at home, which in turn likely pumped up obesity rates.

“Too many people stayed home, health and eating habits were poor, people lost jobs, people did not stay active,” said Dr. Uma Gunasekaran, lead physician at Parkland Health’s Outpatient Diabetes Clinic.

To help battle the epidemic, Parkland Hospital is focusing its efforts on the hardest-hit areas of Dallas County. Southern Dallas ZIP codes were identified as some of the most susceptible populations for developing the disease, according to a study completed by the Parkland Health & Hospital System in 2019.

Over 11.4% of the residents of Dallas County have diabetes, with tens of thousands receiving treatment at Parkland Health.

Gunasekaran says managing diabetes does not necessarily have to be a costly endeavor. Metformin, a commonly prescribed medication for Type 2 diabetes, costs $4 at Walmart. In some cases, Parkland even offers assistance programs when costs are prohibitive.

More problematic, however, is the lack of early detection. According to the CDC, one in four Americans has undiagnosed diabetes, which allows the condition to proliferate and worsen, making early screenings critical.

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  1. R Reason

    Recently, my girlfriend stood nude in front of a mirror and wasn’t happy with what she saw. She said, “I’m fat and I really need a compliment right now.” To which I replied, “Well your eyesight is near perfect…”

  2. ThisGuyisTom

    Diabetics should be aware that fluoridated water dynamically affects the kidneys. After all, fluoride is toxic and the body can only eliminate about 50% of the consumed fluoride. The other 50% is stored in the body forever.
    Fluoridated water on a dialysis machine will kill the patient.

    • R Reason

      Are you speaking as a diabetologist, an endocrinologist, a nephrologist, or a medically unqualified conspiracy theorist?


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