HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is known to have a higher rate of diabetes than the rest of the nation. On Saturday, diabetics in the Diabetes Care For Life program at Straub Clinic and Hospital got some reinforcing information about how to control their diet and exercise -- and got to hear from NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins, himself a diabetic.
Wilkins has Type 2 Diabetes. His father and grandfather also died of the disease, in which blood sugar levels climb above normal. He himself wasn't diagnosed until after he finished his pro basketball career.
"It hit me, that moment, knowing what my father went through," said Wilkins. "And he went into a diabetic coma, and it was three days before we found him. He was still alive, and he had been unconscious in his home."
The eight-week diabetes self-management program comes as diabetes rates continue to climb. According to Straub, nearly 600,000 in Hawaii live with pre-diabetes or diabetes. By the year 2050, it's estimated that one out of two Hawaii residents will have it.
"In Hawaii, you know, there's a lot of people that are diabetic, and so if you're not diabetic yourself, you know someone that is," said program participant Ryan Distajo, who was diagnosed with diabetes 16 years ago.
"With the changing diets and people living fast lives and not paying attention to diets, not exercise probably as much as they should and not being active, we see more diabetes," said Straub CEO Art Gladstone.
Wilkins and others said paying attention to diet and getting more exercise is helping diabetics, and should help prevent others from developing the disease.
"It's just about healthy living, regardless of whether you are diabetic or not, or athletic or not," said Distajo. "They're just good tips in general for living."