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Type 2 Diabetes Success Story


Nelson was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States at 13 years old in 2019.  He’s always been in good physical shape but admits to living a sedentary lifestyle with a history of poor eating habits.  Like many high school sophomores, he spends countless hours every day sitting and playing video games.  Growing up, Nelson’s diet consisted mainly of junk food and soda, with dinner as his only meal each day. 

The American Diabetes Association lists Hispanic Americans in the high-risk category for developing type 2 diabetes (T2D).  Puerto Ricans are the second largest Hispanic subgroup in the U.S. and research has shown them to have an even higher rate of T2D cases.  The Puerto Rican diet contains lots of rice, beans and other high carbohydrate foods.  Another risk factor for T2D is a family history.  Nelson has an uncle and grandmother with diabetes. 

At his annual check-up in February of 2021, Nelson’s blood sugars were dangerously elevated.  The 15-year-old was sent to the emergency room at UMass Memorial and admitted to the hospital for three days with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.  The UMass Memorial pediatric diabetes care team prescribed a combination of daily insulin injections and the oral medication Metformin.  They also educated Nelson and his mother about life with T2D and together they devised a care plan to manage it.

His endocrinologist, Amanda G. Angelescu, MD, and a team of nurse educators taught them how to inject insulin and explained the importance of eating healthy and being physically active.  Registered dietician Jody Fleshman provided nutritional information and taught them the basics about reading nutrition labels. “I learned how to calculate and count carbs,” Nelson said.  “She also gave us ideas for healthier foods and meals.”

For the first time ever, he started eating three healthy meals a day.  “I eat a lot of salad now with chicken breast for lunch and dinner,” he said.  He stopped eating pasta, which he used to eat all the time.  He still allows himself to enjoy rice but in smaller portions and only once or twice a week - and now eats a lot of broccoli.  “I stopped eating candy and drinking sodas every day,” he said. “I drink water.”

Nelson also started walking and running for cardio.  He still plays a lot of video games, “but now I get up and walk around more.”

The lifestyle changes have paid off.  At his follow-up appointment three months after being diagnosed, Nelson’s blood sugars had stabilized to where he no longer requires insulin shots!  His Metformin dosage was lowered as well.

“I feel a lot better!”

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