The number of Missourians with diabetes has doubled since the 1980s, consistent with a worldwide trend. Gregory Ledger is the director of the Endocrinology Department at St. John’s Hospital. He says in 1997 there were 21,000 new cases of diabetes in Missouri. In 2009, there were 32,000 new cases. He says part of the reason is that people are living longer. But he says people wouldn’t ever get diabetes if they practiced healthier diet and exercise habits.
But Ledger says the majority of cases begin when people are in their 40s through 60s – developing Type 2 Diabetes. In 1998, 5.5 percent of Missourians had diabetes. In 2009, that rose to 8.5 percent.
He says developing healthy habits and learning to cook healthy food early on will make a huge difference. He says playing sports and even taking walks outside are habits that could help offset diabetes.
Ledger says schools are doing a good job with healthy eating programs, but would like to see soda and Gatorade machines out of schools. He says it’s also the job of the parents’ to teach healthy eating habits and not to practice a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude with regards to healthy habits.