World Diabetes Day (WDD) is a global awareness campaign held on November 14th (today!) each year to raise awareness about diabetes. Today is about prevention, management, and the importance of access to healthcare for all individuals affected by the disease. WDD was established by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991. According to the WHO, the United States falls second in the ranking of countries with the highest number of diabetes cases, only after China, even with a much smaller population. However, diabetes is a prevalent health issue in our home state of Vermont, and according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of 2020, approximately 9.7% of adults in Vermont have been diagnosed with diabetes, making it as urgent as ever to learn more now!
What is diabetes? Well, it’s not a straightforward answer as there are multiple types. The American Diabetes Association (ADA), describes them as:
- Type 1 diabetes: A chronic condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to a lack of insulin production.
- Type 2 diabetes: A metabolic disorder characterized by insulin resistance, where the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels.
- Gestational diabetes: A form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy when hormonal changes can lead to insulin resistance, causing high blood sugar levels.
- Prediabetes: A condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes, serving as a warning sign for potential future development of diabetes.
- Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY): A rare form of diabetes caused by genetic mutations that affect the production and function of insulin, typically diagnosed before the age of 25.
What can you do to empower yourself when it comes to diabetes? LEARN! We’ve come up with a quick acronym to help you learn or refresh what your awareness of diabetes may be tips for prevention and education: DIABETES
D – Diet management: A healthy and balanced diet is crucial for managing diabetes. It involves monitoring carbohydrate intake, consuming fiber-rich foods, and avoiding excessive sugar and processed foods. There’s no denying a healthful diet in diabetes prevention or management.
I – Insulin regulation: Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. In diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin (type 1) or cannot effectively use it (type 2). Proper insulin management is essential for individuals with diabetes. As you learn to manage yours or help a loved one with insulin regulation, you will also learn how to manage your own diabetes and maintain a safe balance.
A – Active lifestyle: Yes, physical activity plays a significant role in preventing and managing diabetes. Exercise helps control weight, improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances overall health. This isn’t a gimmick or diet culture, active lifestyles are essential for healthy diabetes prevention and management.
B – Blood sugar monitoring: Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels is vital for individuals with diabetes. If you were born before 1985, you likely remember Wilford Brimley, an American actor and diabetes spokesperson, widely known for his appearances in television commercials promoting diabetes testing supplies and awareness. He was part of the major campaign to check your sugar and check it often,” because it allows someone to make informed decisions about their diet, medication, and lifestyle choices to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
E – Education and awareness: Educating individuals and yourself about diabetes is crucial for prevention and management. Raising awareness about the risk factors, symptoms, and available treatments helps promote early diagnosis and effective management strategies.
S – Support network: Building a strong support network is essential for individuals living with diabetes. It can provide emotional support, share experiences, and offer practical advice on managing the condition. Joining one of NCH’s diabetes prevention or self-management classes may just be what you need for support. Call Community Health at 802-334-3208.
Diabetes affects all of us because it is a chronic disease that has a significant impact on individuals, families, and societies worldwide and has profound social, emotional, and economic consequences. WDD matters because it promotes prevention and early detection, and advocates for better access to healthcare and support. By understanding DIABETES, you can empower yourself to lead a healthier life and contribute to the well-being of your community. Empower Yourself, and Educate on DIABETES!
Director of The Wellness Center