November serves as National Diabetes Month, which brings communities across the country together to raise awareness of diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans.

At Mahaska Health Partnership, we aim to support and educate individuals year-round on the subject of diabetes, but November always has a special importance!

Diabetes, one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States, can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease and other health problems. It really presents a struggle for lot of people. This is why it’s Important for us to first do what is needed to prevent the onset of diabetes. And if they are diagnosed, make sure they manage it.

One in 10 Americans has diabetes, according to the U.S. DHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion—that’s more than 30 million people! And another 84 million adults in the U.S. are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In Mahaska County, the rate of diabetes among adults is 7.4 percent.

To be below the national average (in Mahaska County) is obviously a good thing, but almost eight out of every 100 people is still far too many—especially when Type 2 diabetes is preventable!

Type 2 diabetes affects about 95 percent of diabetics, while Type 1—which usually appears in childhood and has no cure or clear cause— affects just five percent, according to 2014 estimates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Losing extra pounds and keeping them off can help you better control your blood sugar. Dropping five percent to 10 percent of your body weight and building up to 150 minutes of exercise a week may help you to slow or stop the progress of Type 2 diabetes.

Consuming a healthy diet is also important to help rid or prevent Type 2 diabetes; a diet filled with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, while avoiding processed foods and ones high in sugar, is the way to go.

In tune with Diabetes Awareness Month, Mahaska Health Partnership is teaming with the Oskaloosa Lions Club to sponsor a free Diabetes Health Fair on Nov. 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Penn Central Mall.

The public is invited to stop by to talk with medical professionals and receive free health screenings related to diabetes. Vendors who supply diabetes medical equipment will be on hand to show the latest items available for symptom management, along with local businesses and services who provide information on healthy living for diabetics.

Along with the many vendors and local businesses, MHP Podiatrist Mark Beers is offering a blood flow screen, which allows him to determine if there is good blood flow by examining vessels of the lower leg and foot. This is important as diabetes complications arise when blood flow is poor.

Furthermore, you will find nutrition and exercise guidance, balance assessments and all things related to diabetes prevention and awareness. It’s a great event and whether you or your loved ones are living with diabetes or want to learn tips for diabetes prevention, come out and enjoy this free community event!