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Dr. Halberg: Life expectancy drop in U.S. could be partly from diabetes

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Michael McBrayer pricks his finger.
An MPR News volunteer uses an Accu-Check blood sugar monitor before eating lunch inside the Kling Public Media Center in St. Paul.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2017

Life expectancy in the U.S. declined last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many factors contributed to the decline, and the increased rate of diabetes may be one of them.

Diabetes remains one of the top 10 leading causes of death, but the disease can be managed, says Dr. Jon Hallberg of the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Jon Hallberg
Dr. Jon Hallberg is assistant professor in family medicine at the University of Minnesota, and medical director at Mill City Clinic. He is a regular medical analyst on MPR's All Things Considered.
Photo courtesy Tom Bloom

Type 2 diabetes, far more common for Americans, is often the result of lifestyle choices, Hallberg said.

"More often than not this is due to a combination of getting too much sugar in our system and not burning it up. It's often the kind of thing we can do something about."

Doctors typically recommend people with diabetes control their diet and become more active.

Hallberg advises keeping on top of the disease.

"Having those high sugar levels day after day after day can cause problems," he said. "We don't want that to happen."