Reducing Diabetes in South Carolina

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Dec. 8, 2022

More than half of all adults in South Carolina have diabetes or prediabetes. About 120,000 are unaware they have the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association®*. Each year, 26,000 South Carolinians are diagnosed with the disease.

Diabetes Free SC (DFSC) is working to prevent diabetes and its complications across the state. Since 2020, DFSC has supported programs and initiatives throughout South Carolina that support its mission in one of three ways:

  • Improving pregnancy outcomes and the health of women who have or who are at risk of developing diabetes
  • Reducing the lifelong risk of diabetes in children
  • Preventing diabetes and its complications in adults

In 2022, DFSC supported multiple new initiatives aimed at reducing diabetes in South Carolina.

Addressing Nutrition Insecurity

Nearly 10 percent of South Carolinians don’t have regular access to healthy food. This includes almost 14 percent of children in the state. Food insecurity increases the risk of diabetes. It also increases the risk of complications among those with diabetes.

Adults who are food insecure are much more likely to have diabetes than those who have secure access to healthy food. Food insecurity also limits a person’s ability to practice healthy behaviors and manage their diabetes. 

DFSC has partnered with FoodShare South Carolina since 2020 to increase access to healthy food throughout the state. The Veggie Rx initiative has expanded to support five partnerships between clinics and FoodShare hubs.

In 2022, DFSC supported Grocery Rx to provide grocery prescriptions and nutrition education.

DFSC also supports GrowFood Carolina. The program teaches families about nutrition and access to local produce. This effort benefited children in 12 Head Start programs in Charleston County in 2022. 

DFSC also supported the Food Is Medicine South Carolina committee to increase access to healthy foods. This effort is possible through a partnership with the SNAP-Ed team at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health. Food Is Medicine South Carolina also helped introduce produce prescription programs across the state. 

Promoting Healthy Environments

DFSC funding in 2022 will enable the statewide expansion of the award-winning Kids in Parks program

This effort aims to develop a network of pediatricians who will participate in TRACK Rx. This is a physical activity prescription program to help providers encourage their youngest patients to get outside and be active.

“Nature is incredibly powerful. Time spent outdoors is linked to happier and healthier lives, whether through improved physical, mental, emotional, cognitive or social outcomes,” says Kids in Parks Director Jason Urroz. “By working with Diabetes Free SC, Kids in Parks will be able to provide opportunities for people across the state to be active outdoors through our TRACK Trail and TRACK Rx initiatives.”

DFSC also joined the Clemson Extension School and Community Gardening Program this year. This effort provides garden kits for 25 School Gardening for South Carolina educators. The kits are designed to equip educators with materials to establish thriving school gardens in alignment with the DFSC Alliance for a Healthier Generation school wellness program.

Providing Care and Support

The DFSC Women’s Health Initiative focuses on reducing racial and income disparities that limit access to health care. Five programs were funded this year through DFSC Women’s Health Initiative. The effort aims to promote wellness among women who have or who are at risk of developing diabetes. The programs funded through DFSC Women’s Health Initiative include: 

  • Diabetes Prevention in Young Women with Obesity and at High Risk for Diabetes (MUSC).
  • Regional Integrated Life-Cycle Diabetes Program for Women (Clemson Rural Health of Clemson University).
  • Rural Health Services Women’s Diabetes Program (Rural Health Services Inc.).
  • Wellness and Empowerment for All Women (Prisma Health Upstate).
  • Women in Control of Diabetes (Prisma Health Midlands and Carolina Diabetes and Kidney Center).

“Improving women's health is vital to improving the health of all South Carolinians. Women's health initiatives, like the partnership between MUSC and Fetter Health Care Network, will result in multigenerational benefits, reducing the impact of diabetes and its complications for decades to come,” says DFSC Executive Director Dr. Timothy Lyons.

These programs aim to empower women with diabetes to take control of their health, to have healthier pregnancies and healthier children, and to be agents of positive change for their families and communities.

“We know that the inequities we’re facing in our state are not limited to just diabetes and related health outcomes but are prevalent in all of the ways that our environment, systems and opportunities impact our health. That is why it is so critical to approach our work in an innovative and equity-centered way. The roots to this are deep and wide, and they affect the ability of all South Carolinians, especially communities of color, to have an opportunity for a healthy life,” says DFSC Program Director Noreen O’Donnell.

*The American Diabetes Association is an independent organization that provides health information you may find helpful.

*This article contains links to third party sites. Those organizations are solely responsible for the contents and privacy polices on their sites. 

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