During October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, much needed publicity and fund-raising occurred for a serious and life-changing condition.
Now that November is here an even more deadly and disabling condition - diabetes - needs our attention, said Ann Constance, director of the Upper Peninsula Diabetes Outreach Network in Marquette.
Diabetes kills more women (and men) than breast cancer each year. In addition, diabetes has no cure and if current trends continue, one of three Americans will have diabetes by 2050.
November is National Diabetes Month, and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) are changing the way diabetes is treated.
Together, MDCH and NDEP are working to help people better understand how to make necessary changes in their lives to prevent type 2 diabetes, manage their diabetes to prevent complications, and live healthier lives.
Diabetes affects nearly 26 million Americans, and an estimated 79 million people are at risk for developing the disease.
Obesity is also a major contributor to chronic diseases such as diabetes.
In Michigan alone, diabetes affects more than one million people, and more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.
"Even if you know what to do to improve your health, figuring out how to do it and fitting it into your daily routine can be a big challenge," said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH. "That's why it's important to set goals and make a plan to prevent type 2 diabetes or manage diabetes to prevent complications."
"The Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan can help in goal setting," Haveman said.
This National Diabetes Month, the Michigan Department of Community Health is working with the National Diabetes Education Program to help people make a change by bringing behavior change tools to the community - tools to help people better understand how to make healthy changes in their day to day life.
One of those tools is the Michigan Health and Wellness 4 x 4 Plan that recommends the practice of four healthy behaviors and management of four health measures to attain and maintain overall wellness.
The four healthy behaviors include a healthy diet, regular exercise, an annual physical exam and avoiding all tobacco use. The four measures are body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes can be present 7 to 10 years before symptoms show and unfortunately damage to blood vessels, kidneys and eyes may already be occurring because of uncontrolled blood sugars during this time, Constance said.
Elevated blood sugars can result in blindness, amputations, loss of kidney function, heart disease and stroke.
If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes take action by:
- Being active 30 minutes most days of the week,
- Watching what you eat and plan to make one change eat smaller portions, drink more water or eat more vegetables,
- Knowing your numbers - A1c, cholesterol and blood pressure - and working with your health care provider to get them under control,
- Getting more support. See a registered dietitian and a diabetes educator; join a Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) workshop or weight loss group, or find an exercise buddy.
Another tool to help set and meet goals is the National Diabetes Education Program's Make A Plan tool.
The tool helps individuals make a plan and work towards a goal by focusing on what is important to their health and how to break down their goals into small, achievable steps.
Whether someone is looking to eat healthier, be more active, manage their weight, or cope better with stress and emotions, the National Diabetes Education Program offers tools and resources to help reach individual health goals.