BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A recent study out of UCLA shows that 55% of Californians have diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
One man is sharing his journey on overcoming diabetes and the simple changes that can be made to prevent the disease.
"I was basically dying three and a half years ago. My feet were black, almost. They said, 'We're going to start chopping toes,'" said Gabriel Lopez, who didn't realize how bad his diabetes was until he couldn't breathe and was passing out.
"They said that my stomach was so extended it was putting pressure on my lungs I couldn't breathe anymore."
In early 2000, doctors told Lopez he was borderline diabetic and needed to make some changes to his diet.
"You're young. So you're like, 'it's not going to affect me in the long run. I know how to handle things.' It got so bad that I gained a lot of weight," he said.
After being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Lopez said that led to other health problems.
"Sleep apnea comes with it, the high blood pressure, the insomnia..."
But he isn't alone in the battle against the metabolic disease.
According to a recent study release UCLA, 15.5 million of California adults have either diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
"The type 2 diabetes is a condition where the body just gets to a point where the body doesn't respond well to insulin, so then your blood sugars get out of control," said Claudia Johan, who is a public health officer with the Kern County Public Health Department.
She said the number of those affected locally is also high, "that's something we've recognized. It's been known that there's a challenge with diabetes."
Jonah said Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable, all by making healthier choices.
"Nutrition changes, exercise - generally taking care of yourself. Sleep, that sort of thing," she said.
Lopez attributes an active lifestyle and healthy meals to helping him overcome diabetes.
"I just wish people would listen and learn from where I've been. I have no medications, I don't use insulin anymore."
He recently finished his first Spartan race and is now on the road to attaining his goal weight.
"You'll be amazed at what little simple changes you can do to make your life a lot better."