Barker said "high blood sugar" affects many West Virginians in rural communities like Logan County who have to watch what they eat, take medication that is often expensive and has other health-related side effects and test their blood glucose levels daily.
Barker said many people who had been healthy in their 20s and 30s develop Type 2 Diabetes when they are in their 40s and 50s which is also known as adult onset diabetes.
He said many people may not even realize they have it unless another diabetic whom they know recognizes the symptoms which include chronic thirst and urination, frequent leg cramps and drowsiness.
The disease is caused when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body becomes unable to use insulin to break down sugar, which then backs up in the body.
Barker noted that at one time, a morning blood glucose level reading of 140 was considered to be in the high normal range.
"That's been lowered to around 100 and that means even more people have been diagnosed," Barker said, adding that it also means more health care related expenses for the public.
If untreated Diabetes can lead to organ failure and death. Health experts warn that annually Diabetes causes more deaths each year than AIDS or Cancer and yet most Americans seldom think about the malady until they or someone they know has been diagnosed with it.
"And for a state with such an older population as West Virginia's that is a big issue," Barker said.
Barker wasn't kidding. A new book about Diabetes and West Virginia made waves last winter when it was announced and disturbing statistics from Logan County were utilized.
Dan Hurley's book "Diabetes Rising: How a Rare Disease Became a Modern Pandemic, And What To Do About It" which was, published published on January 5. Hurley told The Logan Banner he was astounded at the statistics on Diabetes in West Virginia. Hurley reviewed statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control showing that in 2006, Logan County had the highest rate of diabetes in the entire nation.
"I visited there in October of 2008 and devote much of a chapter to what I learned," said Hurley who is a Diabetic himself. He set out to learn why West Virginia and the country at large have seen such an increase in Type 2 diabetes over the past 30 years. In 1975, there were 10 million people in the United States with diabetes.
There are now 23 million, he says.
According to a recent ABC news story, Logan currently has a population of 36,000 and it referred to the county as "Diabetes Country." Health officials are concerned that there could be a pandemic of Diabetes in the area because of the 2008 Centers for Disease Control report which estimated rate of diabetes in Logan County at 14.8 percent, the highest in the United States.