Reducing the Risk of Type 2 diabetes

Christina Assad, Joan Kelly, Yvonne Ng-A-Kien and Pamela Hall

PINELLAS COUNTY — Today, more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports that an additional 84 million have prediabetes. Of those, 90 percent don’t realize they have that condition.

In recent years, the prevalence of prediabetes and diabetes have been on the rise. These are serious health conditions that can lead to other health complications. They are also conditions that disproportionally affect the African-American community. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, African-American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes. They are also three times as likely to be hospitalized for uncontrolled diabetes and twice as likely to die from the condition. 

To help address this issue in Pinellas County, Suncoast PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), a member of Empath Health, began offering the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP.) This program received additional support from the Pinellas Community Foundation.

“We follow the CDC’s guidelines for this program. They provided the material and we needed to be certified lifestyle coaches through the CDC to teach the program,” explained Christina Assad, Pharm.D., B.C.G.P., C.Ph., C.D.E., clinical pharmacist for the Empath Health Pharmacy. 

Assad led this first series of group classes. 

“Through our resources, we were also able to offer “bonus classes” like Reiki, food demonstrations and stress management to reinforce the program curriculum.” 

During the year-long program, participants learn to make healthier food choices, manage stress and set goals to achieve 150 minutes of physical activity every week. Those that stay with the program can potentially reduce their chance of developing Type 2 diabetes by 70 percent. 

The first cohort of participants recently celebrated graduation from the program. Over the past year, they’ve not only learned healthier habits but have found a new sense of confidence. Assad said that she’s noticed participants become more social as they’ve become more comfortable with their weight.

“It’s been a wonderful year. I’ve enjoyed our group,” said Joan Kelly, a graduating program participant. “Our instructors have so graciously given their support, and it’s always good to learn with friends who have similar experiences and goals.”

Fellow participant Yvonne Ng-A-Kien adds, “I’ve learned a lot, especially that the power of living is to be positive, eat healthy, stay active and be happy always.”

Tips for a healthier lifestyle

Whether you have prediabetes, are managing diabetes or just want to live healthier, here a few tips to keep in mind:

Everything in moderation. You can still have the things you enjoy. Choose to have smaller portions or find healthier ways to prepare favorite foods.

Read food labels. Processed foods can often contain high amounts of sodium, fat and sugar. Comparing food labels can help you find the healthiest choice.

Keep a food and activity log. Tracking what you eat and how often you exercise can help show where you are and where you can do better. 

Remember that weight loss doesn’t happen all at once. Set goals for small milestones that lead up to your overall goal.

Kelly adds, “All-around good health requires a positive attitude, commitment and the support of others.”

Learn more about Suncoast PACE care, services and career opportunities at SuncoastPACE.org or call (727) 289-0062. 

Tips for a healthier lifestyle

Whether you have prediabetes, are managing diabetes or just want to live healthier, here a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Everything in moderation. You can still have things you enjoy. Choose to have smaller portions or find healthier ways to prepare favorite foods.
  • Read food labels. Processed foods can often contain high amounts of sodium, fat and sugar. Comparing food labels can help you find the healthiest choice.
  • Keep a food and activity log. Tracking what you eat and how often you exercise can help show where you are and where you can do better. 
  • Remember that weight loss doesn’t happen all at once. Set goals for small milestones that lead up to your overall goal.

Kelly adds, “All-around good health requires a positive attitude, commitment and the support of others.”

Learn more about Suncoast PACE care, services and career opportunities at SuncoastPACE.org or call (727) 289-0062.

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