November – National Diabetes Month by Johanna Hicks
November – National Diabetes Month
For years, Texas A&M AgriLife and its partners have been offering diabetes education and solutions for preventing or managing this condition. “National Diabetes Month is an opportunity to raise awareness of this disease and its risk factors, as well as promote healthful living behaviors that can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a pervasive and costly disease that, while not curable, is manageable. Knowing whether or not you are at risk for diabetes or have prediabetes, nutritional and lifestyle changes can help you avoid developing Type 2 diabetes. Some symptoms of prediabetes include increased thirst, more frequent urination, fatigue, blurry vision and increased body weight, especially around the waist.
According to the American Diabetes Association, one in 10 Americans has diabetes and another 84 million are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. The national cost of diabetes is estimated to be about $245 billion. In Texas, an estimated about 14% of the state’s population have diabetes. Among these, about one-fourth are undiagnosed, which greatly increases their health risks. Another 6.8 million Texans have prediabetes, with blood glucose levels above the normal range but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. The annual cost of diabetes and prediabetes to the state is estimated at $23.7 billion.
AgriLife Extension offers several opportunities for people to learn the skills to more effectively manage the disease — or reduce the risk of developing it by means of better nutrition, exercise and blood-glucose monitoring. These include:
- “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes” is a one-time fee-based course, which dives deeper into understanding diabetes, how food affects blood glucose, how to make healthful choices, the basics of medicine, and incorporating foods into a healthy eating pattern and more.
- “Cooking Well with Diabetes” engages the community with hands-on food preparation to reinforce the practical nutritional applications of the self-care lesson series Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes.
- “Diabetes 1st Step: Live Healthy, Be Hopeful” is a free online, self-paced course on the basics of diabetes self-management. This course has been developed for those newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or wanting to learn more about diabetes self-care.
Nutrition and the food choices we make are important for diabetes management. Each meal we eat is an opportunity to at least partially manage glucose and reduce risk of complications like heart disease. And even relatively small amounts of weight loss, from 3-7% of total body weight, can lead to clinically significant reductions in blood sugar levels. On another front in the fight against diabetes, Texas A&M AgriLife Research food and nutrition researchers are studying the mechanism of the disease to determine how to decrease insulin resistance and the production of glucose – factors leading to the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Texas A&M AgriLife has a number of resources to help increase diabetes awareness as well as show those with diabetes or family members how they can have a better quality of life by making some basic lifestyle improvements. We hope Texans and others throughout the U.S. will use National Diabetes Month as a starting point for learning more about diabetes and how to manage it, especially if they have a family history of diabetes or think they might have prediabetes.
With the COVID-19 situation, many of these programs have gone from in-person to virtual offerings. Stay tuned for information about the “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes” series, scheduled for January, 2021. This will be held via Zoom, and will include guest speakers. More information to come!
When hanging on by a thread, make sure it is the hem of His garment – Toby Mac
Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Family & Community Health Agent
P.O. Box 518
1200-B W. Houston
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483