By Amy Lester, NEWS 9
An area health center is trying to save lives, one woman at a time. They want to prevent diabetes, a disease that's tremendously on the rise.
The Variety Health Center offers special classes for women. They're essential, since diabetes cases have significantly increased over the past few years.
Alma Sandavol is diabetic; the lessons she learns at the center could save her life.
"Diabetes runs in my family and my mom passed away and she had kidney failure and it was all because of the diabetes, now that I'm older and I understand more about it," Sandavol said.
Much of it has to do with diet and exercise.
Variety Health Center offers classes about the disease and how to prevent it.
"They may not be able to prevent it forever, but if they do get diabetes, at least if they get an education, they can learn how to control that diabetes," Dawn Vaughn with the Variety Health Center said.
A recent study proves there's a real need for this education. Over six years diabetes cases went up five times for teenage girls, and they doubled for women between 20-years-old and 39-years-old.
"I think that's mostly lifestyle," Vaughn said. "They've grown up on fast foods and Nintendo."
Variety is trying to change that by teaching women the right way to eat.
Each item is one serving, a surprisingly small amount of food.
"I was keeping away from sugar, but I was doing the breads, the beans, and the rice and big serving sizes; that wasn't helping me at all," Sandavol said.
The goal is to keep women and their babies healthy. Diabetics have a higher risk of miscarriage or birth defects. Complications from diabetes are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. That's reason enough for Sandavol to learn everything she can.
"I want to have it under control because you know I don't want to die and leave my kids," she said.
After the class, Variety constantly follows up with the women to make sure they keep the disease in check.
The Variety Health Center caters to low income families who don't have private health insurance. The March of Dimes provided a grant for the diabetes program.