PLYMOUTH, Minn. – Dr. Ron McGown, family medicine doctor at Park Nicollet, says diabetes develops when our bodies lose the ability to process sugar like they should.

“We need sugar. Sugar is the only thing that your brain functions on so we need to have it, but if we have too much of it, then certain cells in your body start to suffer,” Dr. McGown says.

He says about 6 percent of the population has diabetes. Ninety percent of those cases are type two diabetes, which sets in as an adult.

It's a disease, Dr. McGown says, that is equally common in both men and women and that usually develops gradually.

“When I see people come into the clinic who don't know they have diabetes, the two most common symptoms I see are fatigue and urinating all the time,” he says.

Dr. McGown says it can be diagnosed usually with a blood test.

When it comes to preventing it, he says things like eating right, cutting down on carbohydrates, losing weight and exercising more all play a factor.

“If I could get somebody to understand that slow, gradual weight gain is not really good for you, and that being active and getting regular physical exercise is good for you – I think that would push off a lot of diagnoses of diabetes,” Dr. McGown says.

Dr. McGown says it’s good to run blood tests that can detect diabetes every couple of years.