Diabetes Awareness in November

Some Definitions: Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes
The terms type 2 diabetes and prediabetes can be confusing. Here are simple definitions.

  • Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult onset diabetes, is diagnosed when your body’s pancreas cannot metabolize blood glucose (sugar levels) to within normal levels. The result is extreme highs and lows that can be life threatening. If these highs and lows are not controlled a person with type 2 diabetes will be at increased the risk for heart and kidney disease, retinopathy (which leads to blindness), and amputation.
  • Prediabetes is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not quite high enough to qualify as a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

The Risk of Diabetes Can Be Substantially Reduced
What if you knew today that many of your employees will develop diabetes and be diagnosed 10, 20 or even 30 years from now if they continued their current lifestyle habits? Would you ask them to do anything differently if you could help them reduce their risk by almost 60% and save future additional workplace costs?

Early Diagnosis and Effective Management is Critical
The changes of co morbidities such as heart and kidney disease, retinopathy (which leads to blindness), and amputation can be reduced with early diagnosis and effective management. Complications associated with type 2 diabetes can begin as early as five to six years prior to diagnosis, during which time these co morbidities are already developing, co morbidities that result in higher medical costs, presenteeism, and absenteeism in the workplace. Once diabetes or pre diabetes is diagnosed it can be effectively controlled with lifestyle changes and in some cases with medication. Just a few simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference.

Controlling diabetes. Here are some tips on controlling diabetes.

Those without a diagnosis should have their blood sugar level checked regularly by their physician, maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy weight, and educate themselves about the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of diabetes.

Those with a diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes should:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle to manage their blood glucose and reduce co morbidities.
  • Make lifestyle changes approved by their physician or diabetes nurse educator.
  • Follow the recommendations of their physician, their diabetes nurse educator, and the Canadian Diabetes Association guidelines to manage their condition.

What if diabetes is not controlled? Here are some of the facts.

  • Approximately 80% of people with diabetes will die as a result of heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year.
  • Canadian adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die prematurely, compared to people without diabetes.
  • Life expectancy may be shortened by 5 to 10 years.
  • People with diabetes incur medical costs that are two to three times higher than those without diabetes. A person with diabetes can face direct costs for medication and supplies ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 a year.
  • By 2020, it’s estimated that diabetes will cost the Canadian healthcare system $16.9 billion a year. Higher costs to the healthcare system also mean higher workplace costs that include lost productivity, presenteeism, and absence.

What To Do In the Workplace? Here are two ideas and there is more information on line:

1.     Develop a Know Your Numbers Campaign - It is easy to launch an education-based Know Your Numbers Campaign and there are lots of resources out there. The CDA’s Diabetes Awareness Website has the latest research, personal experiences, inspiration, and free campaign materials and ideas. The World Diabetes Day website also has information and materials that you can download free of charge. Or give us a call at Connex.

2.     Healthy Lifestyles: A Few Simple Changes/Biggest Loser – Think about launching campaigns that include walking, healthy eating and weight loss. Those who make these changes can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60%:

  • Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week
  • Losing just 5-7% of current body weight
  • Improve nutrition. Eat whole grains more often, avoiding sugary drinks, avoid trans fats, and limit consumption of red meat and processed meat.

There are many other benefits to helping employees improve their lifestyles. Employees will be happier and healthier, and will feel better about themselves and your organization.

If you do nothing else this month, send an email to all employees with a link to the Blue Circle Test, a free, interactive, online tool that will help employees learn their risk.