The New Mexico Department of Health recognizes National Diabetes Month during November by highlighting two community-based health programs, Paths to Health NM and Kitchen Creations, that offer free support.

Diabetes affects 200,548 New Mexicans and costs residents over $2 billion dollars per year.

“Diabetes can become a debilitating condition that can seriously impact the lives of those diagnosed,” said David R. Scrase, M.D., acting DOH cabinet secretary. “Luckily, most cases of type 2 diabetes can be avoided with early identification of pre-diabetes and lifestyle changes.”

Paths to Health NM: Tools for Healthier Living is a group of programs that support people to prevent or manage diabetes, other chronic health conditions or injuries.

These programs help adults gain the confidence and skills they need to manage their health needs. Diabetes prevention programs in New Mexico are in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Fort Sumner.

Kitchen Creations is a set of four classes on how to plan and prepare meals to manage carbohydrates and heart health. It is free to participants through funding from the New Mexico Department of Health, Public Health Division, Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, the American Diabetes Association, and the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service.

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the most expensive chronic condition in the nation. Insulin costs are capped at $25 per 30-day prescription in New Mexico with the passage of House Bill 292 in 2020.

Today, a quarter of Americans say that insulin prices have affected their insulin usage. Average prices of a month’s supply of insulin exceed $200 nationwide.

Diabetes can lead to other serious health conditions including blindness, kidney failure, heart failure and stroke. The most at-risk populations for diabetes are African Americans, American Indian and Alaska Natives and those with a family history of diabetes.

While type 1 diabetes is not preventable, type 2 diabetes can be avoided.

Prediabetes is a condition where an individual has a higher-than-normal blood sugar level. In New Mexico, 587,000 residents are considered pre-diabetic; only three in 10 people know they are pre-diabetic.

Signs of prediabetes include:

  • Being overweight;
  • Frequent tiredness;
  • Higher blood sugar; and
  • Family history.

If you are concerned you may be prediabetic, it is important to have a conversation with your provider. Each year 14,611 New Mexicans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

For those who are diagnosed with prediabetes, type 2 diabetes can be avoided with lifestyle changes. The risk of diabetes can be cut in half by making these simple lifestyle changes:

  • Eating healthy;
  • Exercising regularly; and
  • Speaking with a medical provider about diabetes;
  • Joining a diabetes prevention program.

Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a mother develops high blood sugar during pregnancy. Two to 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States will develop gestational diabetes.

Expectant mothers can prevent this condition by monitoring their blood sugar and weight during pregnancy. Talk to a healthcare provider regarding safe weight during pregnancy.

Testing for gestational diabetes should happen between the 24th and 36th weeks of pregnancy.

Normally, the mother’s blood sugar returns to normal after her baby is born.