Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, more than half a million people in the state have diabetes.
Deborah Colby is with the Diabetes Coalition of Mississippi. She says the disease can sometimes go undetected - meaning some people may not even know they have it.
"Many times somebody that's diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, may have had it for 7 years. At that point in time, some of the complications are already beginning to develop," says Colby.
Complications can include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations. These are all reasons why Colby stresses the importance of early detection.
"The earlier we can catch type 2 diabetes, the greater the life expectancy and the health outcomes are. Hopefully we can reduce the complications that can take place, if not, actually prevent them from occurring," Colby says.
Kendall Simmons - a former National Football League player with diabetes - says while growing up, no one talked about it.
"I understand what our community kind of goes through and how we grew up and how we live. Not talking about diabetes and accepting it for what it is. My grandma had it, aunt had it, and it's not ok for 4 generations to have it. The kids who are going to have to deal with it at some point, their family and parents don't educate them on it," says Simmons.
The Health Department reminds the public that diabetes is serious, controllable, and preventable.