REED CITY — With each year that passes, more people both locally and across the county could be at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 26 million adults and children in the U.S. have diabetes, while 86 million have prediabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes. In Michigan, more than 1 million people have the disease, and 2 million are at risk. Diabetes costs $9 billion per year in the state.

While the national average for those with diabetes is 8.3 percent, 10 percent of the population in Osceola County has been diagnosed. In Mecosta County, it is 9 percent and it is 12 percent in Lake County.

Local Spectrum Health staff Jodie Hollen, a registered nurse and diabetes educator, and Lori King, registered nurse and program coordinator, are seeing more and more individuals diagnosed with the disease.

"It's a concern," Hollen said. "The main thing is we know diabetes is out there and we're sad we're not seeing more patients who are struggling being treated."

The pair believe Type 2 is so prevalent within the Tri-county area because of a number of factors. Many residents live sedentary lifestyles and their diets consist of fast food or food high in calories. In addition, low economic statuses make it difficult for people to purchase healthy food, as it typically is more expensive. Fewer people are making home cooked meals, which gives them the ability to control what they put into a dish. Heredity also plays a part, King added.

Symptoms of the disease include increased thirst and urination, fatigue and blurred vision. In worst cases, heart attacks and amputations of the lower limbs may occur. Physicians hope to catch signs of the disease as soon as possible and will administer blood tests after hours of fasting.

Prevention is key, Hollen said. Eating healthy foods, being active, knowing family history and seeing a doctor regularly can help ward off diabetes. However, once someone has been diagnosed, a lifestyle change is in order.

"Most health issues are amplified because of diabetes," King said. "The disease feeds into so many other problems and can be very expensive."

Local diabetes patients can take advantage of the resources from Spectrum Health Reed City and Big Rapids hospitals, including their diabetes prevention program, which is a free one-year program that teaches individuals how to make lifestyle changes including meal planning and exercising. The hospitals also offer a 2-hour pre-diagnosis program for those who are at risk to develop the disease.

Both facilities also offer a free diabetic support group, which will begin in February and take place from 3 to 4 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.

"Diabetes is not a one-person disease, it effects the whole family," King said. "Diabetes education is on-going."

For more information about diabetes health or the diabetic support group, call Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital at (231) 592-4483 or Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital at (231) 832-6636.