At age six, first grader Allen Sanders is one of a growing number of children dealing with diabetes. A lot of children are afraid of shots, but Allen is not. He has been taking them twice a day since he was diagnosed with diabetes at two years old.
"His mom came home crying after she gave him a shot," said Allen's father, Brian. "She had to give him a shot, and I guess he was having a bad day and said, 'mom, I don't want to be a diabetic anymore. I want it to be over.’"
Allen is not alone. Although he has Type I, or juvenile diabetes, the biggest increase is among children with Type II diabetes, something which previously affected mostly adults.
So why the increase now?
"I believe part of this is because of a lack of exercise," said Patricia Boyd of the Mississippi Diabetes Association.
Another reason, Boyd says, is a poor diet.
Retired nurse Martha Alford, who owns Binky's Restaurant, said she knows all too well about the importance of a proper diet.
"I have one young man that comes all the way from Lauderdale just to get his grandmother's dinner, and she's a diabetic," said Alford. "I cook home cooked foods, but you can eat all of it in moderation."
It seems that members of minority groups may need to practice that more than some other groups. Because of often lax diets and too little exercise, minorities now lead the nation in diabetes.
The latest numbers show that Native Americans have the highest rates followed by African-Americans, Hispanic Americans and Caucasian Americans. The good news is that it can be controlled by managing your diet and a consistent exercise program.
That's what healthcare officials want people to know. However, it must be taken seriously.