November is American Diabetes Month, a time to communicate the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention and control. For years, the American Diabetes Association has used this month as an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and its serious complications.
With nearly 26 million children and adults in America living with diabetes, and another 79 million at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the disease is taking a devastating physical, emotional and financial toll on our country. Yet, most Americans don't consider diabetes a serious matter. They feel it is someone else's responsibility; someone else's problem.
The American Diabetes Association estimates that the national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $174 billion. Further published studies suggest that when additional costs for gestational diabetes, prediabetes and undiagnosed diabetes are included, the total diabetes-related costs in the U.S. could exceed $218 billion.
Diabetes is an epidemic. Alabama's diabetes prevalence rate is 13.2 percent, according to 2010 data, while the national average is 8.3 percent.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System conducts on-going programs that address diabetes issues.
Regional Extension Agent Valerie Connor, as well as other regional agents throughout the state, regularly conduct the New Leaf: Choices for Healthy Living Series, which involves changing eating and physical habits to achieve healthy weight loss and modify eating behavior patterns. One November session focused on prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.
Regional Extension Agent Sharon Haynes and Ted Gilbert, Extension coordinator for Russell County, recently partnered with St. Francis Hospital and local registered dieticians to conduct a diabetes workshop. Topics covered were the four elements of diabetes, the epidemic of diabetes and the role of nutrition in managing diabetes.
Jennifer Miller, county Extension coordinator for Choctaw County, recently conducted a county health fair. More than 300 residents had blood sugar tested. Other free screening offered were cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index, oxygen saturation, vision, and heath and weight analysis.
This week, urban regional Extension agent Mary Andrews conducted a diabetic cooking class for 21 individuals in Lauderdale County.
Debby Mathews, county Extension coordinator in Cleburne County is doing the Nutrition Jeopardy interactive game with Ranburne High School health class students . The game teaches students the importance of making wise food choices and exercising regularly, which helps prevent diabetes.
The Madison County Extension office has a diabetes exhibit up year round. The exhibit is always available for loan to churches, organizations and agencies seeking to provide diabetes education. Madison County volunteers also assist with diabetes education programs.
During American Diabetes Month this November, the American Diabetes Association is encouraging people to take action and raise their hands to Stop Diabetes.
Stop Diabetes is the movement to end the devastating toll that diabetes takes on the lives of millions of individuals across our nation. Its goal is to inspire and mobilize the general public, volunteers, donors, corporations and the scientific and medical communities to rally around our cause and our call to "share, act, learn and give." Through these actions, millions will have the chance to get involved and help raise awareness, promote healthy living and raise money to fund educational outreach, advocacy efforts and critical research that will ultimately stop diabetes once and for all.
If diabetes isn't managed, it can damage many parts of the body, leading to heart attacks, strokes, amputation, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage. But there is good news: diabetes complications can be prevented or delayed by properly managing blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eating healthy, being physically active and quitting smoking also can help lower the risk of diabetes complications. For those with Type 2 Diabetes, prevention of complications include the previous steps, as well as taking prescribed medication as directed, and knowing and checking the A,B,C,S of Diabetes. Remember, A=hemoglobin A1C, B=blood pressure, C=cholesterol, and S=smoking.
There are many ways to become involved. For more information in English and Spanish call 1-800-DIABETES, test JOIN to 69866 (standard data and message rates apply) or visit stopdiabetes.com. Also, follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AmericanDiabetesAssociation) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/AmDiabetesAssn).