The Jackson County Department of Public Health offers a year-long Diabetes Prevention Program for Jackson County residents that focuses on preparing simple and healthy meals, finding time to be physically active, and maintaining a healthy weight.

The class is hands-on and helps participants reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes.

The next class will begin Thursday, Jan. 17. The number of participants is limited and registration is required. To register and for more information, contact Janelle Messer, health education supervisor, at 587-8238.

Pre-diabetes is a condition when people have higher than normal blood glucose or sugar levels, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 2,624,000 people in North Carolina have pre-diabetes, which is 36.1 percent of the adult population. Pre-diabetes often leads to type 2 diabetes, a difficult and expensive disease that can even lead to death. Without lifestyle changes to improve health, 15 to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

How can you know if you’re at risk for pre-diabetes? There are risk factors that can and cannot be changed. Risk factors that can be modified include overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.

Non-modifiable risk factors include older age, a family history of type 2 diabetes and race/ethnicity, as African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and other minority groups have a higher risk. Additionally, women who had gestational diabetes, have had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds, and a history of polycystic ovary syndrome are also at an increased risk.