What if your doctor tells you that you have diabetes or prediabetes, a condition that means you are close to developing this disease? What are your next steps? Would you know whom to talk to or where to find support?
The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is one of many communities fighting this disease through education. On Thursday, November 13, in recognition of Diabetes Awareness Month, the SRPMIC Diabetes Program hosted a health fair at the Salt River Community Building for anyone looking to educate themselves about this disease.
“I was [at the border for developing] diabetes. That was a wake-up call for me,” said SRPMIC Council Representative Tom Largo, who addressed the audience at the event. “Even though I had [many complications], I worked out six days a week. One important thing is I [track] my blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI). Right now, I feel like I am in pretty good shape, and I weigh 180 pounds. But according to the [BMI chart], I am overweight. [My BMI is] 29 when it should be between 18 and 25. My goal now is to get down to that range.”
ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Indian and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. While the tendency to be overweight and develop diabetes can be passed down from parent to child, that doesn’t mean developing diabetes is inevitable. Diabetes also is a consequence of poor diet and lack of physical exercise, so making lifestyle changes can help people stay healthy. Those who do have diabetes may face severe complications, including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, amputations and more.
Fighting back starts with education and learning to stay healthy. The health fair had approximately 10 informational booths hosted by staff from the Diabetes Program, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Huhugam-Ki Museum.
“We enjoyed it; it was really good. They gave us very good information. My favorite session was the [booth by the Salt River Fitness Center]. They gave us different exercises we could do,” said Community member Dora Rodriguez.
“They had really good information, [such as] what to eat and how much fat and sugar was in fast food; that was my favorite. I had no idea,” said Community member Felecia Arthur.
“Our primary focus of this health fair was to educate. I hope you learned from these sessions that were provided to you,” said Roberta Johnston, Diabetes Services program manager, as the health fair came to an end.
Also as part of Diabetes Awareness Month, the Run Against Diabetes was held on Saturday, November 22 at Salt River High School. The event attracted approximately 120 participants.
For more information about preventing and treating diabetes here within the SRPMIC, call Roberta Johnston at (480) 362-7342.
Did You Know?
• Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes; 1 in 4 are unaware that they have the disease.
• Another 86 million Americans (1 in 3 U.S. adults) have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
• In 2012, diabetes and its related complications accounted for $245 billion in total medical costs and lost work and wages.
* Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)