Hawaii’s high rate of diabetes spurs 16-year study

Causes and prevention of diabetes were the focus of a study by the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine.

One of the findings from the 16-year long study is that Hawaii has the highest rate of diabetes in the country. That’s one of the reasons the medical school was involved in a study on its prevention and treatment.

“We decided early on that there are many different interventions that could prevent diabetes,” said school professor Dr. Richard Arakaki, “and certainly lifestyle, where we have people increase their physical activity and decrease their weight, is probably the most obvious intervention.”

Study participant Sam Miyasato was one of those involved in that lifestyle intervention by getting more exercise and eating right.

“I feel like I’m in excellent health for my age,” he said. “I’m 84 years now and hopefully I’ll stick around a while before I go,” he said.

Arakaki said that the cost of diabetes was “$245 billion nationwide in 2012. That’s the current (Centers for Disease Control) estimate. It’s going to get more costly. We know that the cost of medications to treat diabetes will skyrocket over the next five to 10 years, as well.”

Arakaki says the study also found that medications, like the prescription drug Metformin, can help with the treatment of diabetes. But it’s lifestyle changes in diet and exercise that proved best at prevention.

“We know from our study that the lifestyle intervention is cost-effective,” he said. “We know that Metformin is cost-saving and we know we can also improve their quality of life as well.”

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