Along with becoming the land of plenty, the last few decades have seen America pay the price with a rise in health issues, not the least of which is diabetes.
With 1 in 3 adults now pre-diabetic to some degree, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) set up a year-long workshop called My Choice … My Health to lower those numbers.
The Diabetes Prevention Program is not so much a class, but rather a workshop. Yes, there is learning, but it is also a community people can look to for support while navigating the health challenges of the modern world and make sure that they don’t fall into bad habits. To do this they have adopted some pharma-rep tactics and worked with the American Medical Association to gather physician-related material. That’s how Irene Strozier found the program.
She works at Henry Ford Hospital and the information came across her desk. She joined the workshop after she took the diabetes test on the NKFM website and found out she was very high risk. With a brother and mother afflicted she decided to take action. To have a close relative such as a parent or sibling afflicted is the highest risk factor.
She learned the basics of diabetes prevention like improved eating habits, the importance of losing 5-7 percent of your body weight if you are at risk, and increased physical activity. However, it was the Diabetes Prevention Program group and nutrition coaches she found the most beneficial.
The coach, Carolyn in Irene’s case, also provide a needed service. NKFM takes an approach of encouragement and understanding. For instance, if one person goes outside the recommend guidelines, he or she is assured these things happen and it is okay … so long as it does not become a common occurrence.
It has certainly helped Strozier, who has lost 40 lbs. of her personal goal of 80-100 lbs. She also has more energy and feels much better.
All this was done with the simple acts like watching diet closely and exercising 30 minutes a day 3-4 times a week. She has even incorporated line dancing into her routine two days a week, certainly one of the more fun types of exercise.
She also began to control the less controllable through compromises. She knows if her co-workers invite her to lunch she will not have the same control as she would if she were cooking, so she has them all walk to the location together.
Strozier doesn’t plan on stopping with the workshop. Once the year is up, she intends to continue with the monthly version. Even that is not enough. She wants more people to experience what she did.
She began working with her brother and other family members to make them healthier. This is quite likely an attainable goal since her mother, who died a few years ago, changed her habits and was no longer diabetic when she passed.
If asked, Strozier will be one of the testimonials at the beginning of the workshop, the very group that gave her hope when she started her journey last year.
“The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan is committed to empowering those at high risk for developing diabetes to make simple lifestyle changes that can change their family history and create healthier communities,” says Laurie Gustafson, senior program manager at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan.
With diabetes as one of the two biggest threats to kidneys, Gustafson and several others at the NKFM saw a community in need. They already had classes to help manage those already afflicted, but little for those at risk. They stepped in three years ago and started with the first My Choice … My Health classes as a basis.
One of the biggest challenges of the group is alerting those at risk of its existence. Seeking out connections with physicians is critical to find potential work shoppers before it is too late.
While this is the first time the NKFM put together a program like this, there have been others across the country that have tried it. An original research session by the National Institute of Health found such groups to be the most effective way for prevention. With a 58% success rate that is higher than even medication.
The study was done with 3,000 people and National Institute of Health followed up with them after five years. Currently, the organization is trying to find a way to monitor their personal success rate over time.
The first 16 weeks of the workshop are the more intensive and information heavy. For those who found it successful a second monthly group meeting is held after completion.
There are workshops across the state. For more information visit http://www.nkfm.org/communities-families/diabetes-prevention-program