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A Year in Review – Diabetes Education

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Johanna Hicks

By JOHANNA HICKS, Texas AgriLife Extension Agents for Family and Community Health in Hopkins County, [email protected]

Each year in November and December, my co-worker and I provide highlights and impacts of our programming for the year.  My passion has been teaching others about self-management of diabetes.  Many people know that our son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 2 ½.  Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes is most common among young people.  The pancreas stops producing insulin due to the body’s own immune system attacking itself and harming the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.  Insulin is necessary to regulate blood glucose in the body.  Without that regulation, glucose builds up in the blood, causing high blood sugar.  Insulin is necessary in order to live.  Treatment has come a long way since our son was diagnosed.  Continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, and electronics have made diabetes much more manageable. 

The programs presented through Texas A&M AgriLife Extension focus on management of type 2 diabetes.  This type is more common in adults.  The problem occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body doesn’t utilize that insulin correctly.  Most people with type 2 can control the disease by diet, exercise, and oral medication.  Below is a summary of diabetes education in Hopkins County.

Relevance:

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) defines chronic diseases as those lasting longer than 1 year resulting in continued medical care or limited daily activity.  Currently in Texas, approximately 12.2% of the adult population have diabetes.  In Hopkins County, that number is 12%.  Additionally, 32% are reportedly physically inactive and 37% of the county population is obese.

Education is an integral component in managing the prevalence of diabetes. “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes” is an Extension program designed to reach clientele with research and evidence-based interventions.  Unlike other chronic diseases, people with type 2 diabetes can learn to manage their disease by following a healthful eating plan, participating in regular physical activity, and developing skills needed to assist in controlling their blood glucose.  “Cooking Well with Diabetes” offers practical dietary and self-care management focusing on healthy cooking alternatives.

Response:

The target audience was individuals with type 2 diabetes and their families.  “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes” 5-lesson series and “Cooking Well with Diabetes” 4-lesson series took place in 2022.  Partnerships and collaborators included the Texas Diabetes Council and American Diabetes Association (materials), Master Wellness Volunteers (marketing, registration, tray preparations), local diabetes educator and pharmacist (taught specific sessions).  Nine individuals completed DWBW and 10 completed the CWWD series.  Sessions included recognizing carbohydrate foods, meal planning, physical activity, diabetes medications, and managing complications.  CWWD sessions included recognizing carbohydrate foods, making recipes with fat better for you, reducing sodium, increasing fiber, and celebrating sensibly with diabetes.  CWWD included cooking demonstrations and recipe sampling.

Results:

Pre- and post-surveys were distributed to participants.  Below are the indications from the DWWD surveys:

  • 100% indicated learning the connection between carbohydrates and blood glucose
  • 10-% reported increased confidence in achieving 30 minutes of physical activity most days
  • 100% learned how to prevent blood glucose from dropping during exercise
  • 79% reported improved overall health
  • 79% increased frequency of checking their feet

For Cooking Well with Diabetes, the results are:

  • 100% indicated that the series met or exceeded their expectations
  • 80% indicated reducing added salt at the table
  • 77% reference MyPlate for meal planning
  • 70% indicated increasing fiber and vegetable consumption

The economic impact for Do Well with Diabetes is $159.197 in reducing doctor visits due to diabetes, reducing or eliminating sick days due to diabetes, and increased overall health.  One participant stated, “These classes were a good eye opener for me.  I don’t have diabetes now but was warned by my doctor to change my diet.”  Another stated, “This course has taught me so much!  I have a much better understanding of diabetes.”

Closing Thought

The best way to predict your future is to create it. – Abraham Lincoln


Contact Johanna Hicks, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension for Family & Community Health Agent, at the Hopkins County office, P.O. Box 518, 1200-B West Houston St., Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; 903-885-3443; [email protected].

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Author: Faith Huffman

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