For many families across the country, warm weather means time spent with family – whether it’s backyard cookouts, picnics at the park, or even family get-togethers over Zoom! These events are a time for families to reconnect and reflect on traditions. Family functions are also a time to talk about family health.
In the United States, all too often a family’s health history includes prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition that affects 88 million American adults – or 1 in 3 – and means that a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough yet for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Prediabetes affects some communities more than others. For example:
- 32% of Hispanics and Latinos have prediabetes, and only 1 in 14 are aware that they do.
- 36% of African Americans have prediabetes, and only 1 in 10 are aware that they do.
- American Indians and Alaska Natives are twice as likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when compared to the rest of the population.
- For example, Asian Americans are 10% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when compared to the rest of the population. What’s more, they are at risk for diabetes at a lower body mass index – a ratio of height to weight – than other Americans.
The good news is prediabetes can often be reversed with a healthy diet and more physical activity. When spending time with family this summer, think about ways you can get healthier together. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Prepare healthier food. It’s not summer without backyard barbecues and cookouts! Serve healthy options such as fruits, vegetables, and low-sugar and low-calorie beverages.
- Check out farmers’ markets and make trips to “pick-your-own” farms and orchards. Kids may be more likely to try new foods they pick themselves. Plus, the whole family can get in more physical activity.
- Get the family moving. Head outside for a game of soccer, basketball, softball, or kickball. Or just go for a good, brisk family walk. Or stay inside and play an active video game or have a dance party.
- Create a family health buddy program. Accountability works. Encourage family members to pick a “health buddy” who they can talk to when they feel like they’re slipping into unhealthy behaviors or when they want to celebrate a health win. Texting a family member after completing a workout or when a dessert craving hits can be just what they need to stay on track.
- Start a conversation about prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. It’s not always easy to bring up a topic like prediabetes, but it sure is important – 9 out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t even know they have it. Encourage your family members to find out if they might have prediabetes by taking a one-minute risk test at http://bit.ly/2PSw4rv. If they find out they have prediabetes, encourage them to learn more about a program like Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life., a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program at Whatley Health Services where participants can learn ways to lower their chances for getting type 2 diabetes.
Whatley Health Services is offering this free diabetes prevention program virtually so you can connect with a coach online who can help you to eat healthier, exercise more, and reduce stress. Through the program, you’ll also work with other program participants who can support you on your journey.
Summer is a time to have fun with family, but it’s also a time to help take care of them. Encourage family members at risk for type 2 diabetes to understand their risk and learn that they can prevent or delay it if they take steps to change their lifestyle. Help them get started today!