UACES Facebook Understanding Diabetes
skip to main content

Understanding Diabetes

Chances are that you probably know someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose, levels resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both.


Chances are that you probably know someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose, levels resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both.

From 1980 through 2003, the number of Americans with diabetes more than doubled (from 5.8 million to 13.8 million). In general, regardless of race/ethnicity and sex, prevalence tended to be highest among persons aged 65 years or older and lowest among persons less than 45 years of age.

Type 1 diabetes is usually complete insulin deficiency and may account for five to ten percent of all diagnosed cases. Persons with type 1 diabetes are dependent on insulin to prevent ketoacidosis and death. Although it may occur at any age, most cases are diagnosed in people younger than 30 years of age, with a peak incidence at around 10 to 12 years in girls, and ages 12 to 14 years in boys.

 Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. The cause of type 2 diabetes remains unknown, but both genetic and environmental factors are important. Older age, physical inactivity, and obesity (especially abdominal obesity), are probably the most powerful risk factors. Even small weight losses are associated with a change in glucose levels toward normal in many persons with type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is defined as any degree of glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. It occurs in about four percent of all pregnancies, and generally disappears when the pregnancy is over. Gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed during the second or third trimester.

Many times, the symptoms of diabetes often go undiagnosed because they seem harmless in many cases. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek the advice of your doctor.  These symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability, and blurry vision.

Diabetes is not a condition which should be taken lightly.  Potential health complications of diabetes include heart and blood vessel disease, blindness, kidney failure, and foot ulcers, among other conditions.

Of the above listed complications, heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes. Three out of four diabetes-related deaths are caused by heart and blood vessel disease. People with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have heart disease than those without diabetes. Even those with type 2 diabetes who do not have heart disease have an increased risk of having a heart attack. People with diabetes also tend to have other risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries.

High blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys, which often leads to kidney failure. Even when drugs and diet can control diabetes, the disease can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure. Healthy kidneys act like filters to clean the blood of waste products and extra fluid. Damaged kidneys do not clean the blood well. Instead, waste products and fluid build up in the blood.

People with diabetes are at risk for foot injuries, due to numbness caused by nerve damage and low blood flow to the legs and feet. The most serious injury is a foot ulcer. Diabetic foot ulcers are at very high risk of becoming infected, and sometimes they cannot be healed. Non-healing foot ulcers are a frequent cause of amputation in people with diabetes. Patients with foot ulcers may use wound dressings, skin substitutes, or other treatments to protect and heal their skin.

There is much to learn about diabetes including what lifestyle factors affect your risk of diabetes.   If you are interested in learning more about diabetes, contact me at the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service in Miller County at 870-779-3609, visit 400 Laurel, Suite 215 in Texarkana, or e-mail me at  We have a wealth of free information that I will gladly send to you.

Being diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t mean giving up sugar; it means that you should consume it in moderation, something we all should strive to do.  So, don't pass up that peanut butter cookie. Instead, eat a little less bread or potato, and replace it with the cookie. Then gather the family afterwards and take a brisk walk to burn some calories

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup stick margarine

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 teaspoon granulated sugar


Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl, mix and set aside.  In a large mixing bowl set at medium speed, beat the margarine until smooth.  Add the one half cup sugar, peanut butter, egg and vanilla; mix for one minute.  The dough will be crumbly so cover and chill 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pour the 4 teaspoons sugar on a small plate.  Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.  Dip the bottom of a small juice glass into the sugar before flattening each ball to about one-half inch thickness.  Bake for 7-9 minutes until the cookies are firm.  Allow cookies to set on sheet for 4 minutes before gently removing cookies to a cooling rack.


By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.