Fresh data from the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index shows New Jersey's diabetes rate has dropped slightly in the past 10 years, which is not too bad compared to other states.

The diabetes rate in the Garden State dropped from 10.1 percent in 2008 to 9.9 percent in 2017. The state ranks 12th in the nation in diabetes prevalence.

Jane Haffay, nurse practitioner at the diabetes center at Hackensack Meridian Health's JFK Medical Center, says what's driving the majority of diabetes in New Jersey are a sedentary lifestyle and obesity.

She said Type 2 diabetes is now being seen in middle school aged children and that is related to obesity, unhealthy eating habits and lack of activity. Type 1 diabetes is related to insulin production by the body. While doctors are still not quite sure of the cause of Type 2 diabetes, Haffay said it is related to family history, obesity, ethnic groups and lack of exercise.

Haffay credits New Jersey's push to have better nutrition and more exercise in schools.

The data also showed that New Jersey's obesity rate went up from 23.5 percent in 2008-2009 to 25.1 percent in 2016-2017. Haffay said it's not surprising because obesity is increasing not only in New Jersey and in the United States but also worldwide.

"I attribute some of that to fast foods, people being busy. They're not cooking at home as much as they used to," said Haffay.

Making fast food restaurants more open about the nutritional quality of their foods and better labeling on foods can help lower the diabetes rate in New Jersey, said Haffay.

You should get your blood sugar checked if you experience certain symptoms such as excessive weight loss, blurry vision and increased hunger, thirst, urination.

Those most at risk for diabetes are people over the age of 40, those who are overweight, those with a family history and certain ethnic groups including Asian, Hispanic, Native and African Americans.

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