Tag Archives: diabetes

It’s Diabetes Alert Day: Take the test

It’s the fourth Tuesday in March, which means it’s time for Diabetes Alert Day.

Held by the American Diabetes Association, Alert Day is a one-day “wake-up call,” asking Americans to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes affects nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States. About one-quarter of them—7 million—do not even know they have it.

An additional 79 million, or one in three American adults, have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

What is prediabetes?

Pre-diabetes, says  Dr. Floyd Shewmake, M.D., J.D., senior medical director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSA), refers to a blood sugar level which is higher than normal but not yet high enough to result in the diagnosis of diabetes.  Almost all type 2 diabetics go through a period of time when they meet the criteria for pre-diabetes.

The only way to determine if you are pre-diabetic is to have a fasting blood sugar test done, he adds.  Pre-diabetes has no symptoms but there is evidence that even at this early stage damage to critical organs such as the heart and kidneys can begin.

So, who’s at risk?

Adults and children who have one or both parents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, says Shewmake.

Women who developed elevated blood sugars during pregnancy are also at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes as they get older, and should be monitored more closely for diabetes.

Shewmake says that the risk for developing diabetes can be delayed, or even avoided. Healthy dietary habits, maintaining a normal weight, and an active lifestyle with regular exercise can help.

Type 2 diabetes occurs more often in adults with high blood pressure, so Shewmake encourages regular checkups to make sure that blood pressure stays in the normal range.

What’s normal blood pressure?

Recent research shows a link between type 2 diabetes and the development of colon cancer.  This association has been identified in several studies though it is not yet understood exactly why this link exists.

Colon cancer screening is important for all adults, says Shewman, and especially important for individuals with type 2 diabetes because of this link.

“We have known for years that the better the sugar is controlled, says Shewman, “the less likely secondary complications such as heart, vascular and kidney diseases will occur.” New drug therapies developed over the last ten years are helping type 2 diabetics better control their blood sugars.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona encourages families to follow the “5-2-1-0” plan for staying healthy and active. Aim for:

FIVE fruits or vegetables per day

TWO hours or less of screen time

ONE hour of physical activity

 ZERO sweetened drinks.

More on BCBSA’s school-based health education program Walk On!

Helping college kids cope with diabetes

Creating a safe learning environment for kids with diabetes


Helping college kids cope with diabetes

One in every 400 children and adolescents have Type 1 diabetes — and that includes college students, too.

Previously known as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. According to the American Diabetes Association,  in Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Managing diabetes in college can be tough. It can be a young person’s first crack at complete independence from mom and dad.

Catherine Griffiths and her son, Harlyn

For some, that means learning to manage the challenges of classes, extracurricular activities, making new friends — and controlling blood sugar levels and diet in an away-from-home setting — on their own.

Read RAK sales staffer Catherine Griffiths’ story about her own teen son’s experience with Type 1 diabetes.

Kim Hohol, a registered dietician with Cigna Medical Group who practices at the CJ Harris location in Tempe,  offers some tips for college students with diabetes who are trying to cope with new challenges:

• Meet with a diabetes counselor in your health center

• Inform your roommate, professor and close friends of your diabetes

• Keep snacks handy

• Remember that walking to class can affect your blood sugar levels

• Buy your supplies in bulk

• Consider wearing a Medic Alert Bracelet

Anyone can join the American Diabetes Association  annual “Step Out to Stop Diabetes” walk sponsored by Cigna Medical Group.

The event takes place on Saturday, Oct. 1 this year. One walk will be held in the morning, and one in the evening. The two locations and additional details:


Location: Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass, 5700 N. Loop Road, Chandler
Registration: 6:30-7:30 a.m.
Start: 8am.
Distance: 1 or 3 mile walk


Location: Midwestern University, 19555 N. 59th Ave., Glendale
Registration: 4:30-5:30pm.
Start: 6pm.

A safe learning environment for kids with diabetes

Unless you have a child with diabetes, you probably don’t think about this disease very often.

But for parents raising children who deal with monitoring glucose levels, life can be unpredictable.

School-age children with diabetes face unique challenges and sometimes dangerous situations because of fluctuations in these levels.

To help teachers, principals and others ensure the safety of youngsters with diabetes during the school day, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program has recently updated their guide, Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel.

The NDEP committee notes that everyone, from bus drivers to teachers to administrators, has a role in helping students with diabetes succeed, and that they  hope this guide helps to explain the critical role that school staff members at every level can play.

Diabetes management remains an evolving science. The guide’s latest edition, the first update since 2003, describes the most current recommendations of leading health care experts for developing a diabetes management plan to handle diabetes-related emergencies.

Training is recommended for all school staff members who have responsibility for students with diabetes. The training should provide a basic understanding of the disease, the needs of a child with diabetes and the symptoms signaling a diabetic emergency.

Also, a few staff members at every school should be trained in student-specific routine and emergency diabetes care tasks so that at least one staff member is always available for younger, less experienced students and for any student with diabetes in case of an emergency.

The guide urges parents to notify school officials that a child has diabetes and to work with the child’s personal diabetes health care team to develop a diabetes medical management plan.

It also recommends that parents permit sharing of relevant medical information by the school and the child’s health care team.

Diabetes facts:

  • Diabetes is a group of diseases in which the body does not produce or respond properly to insulin, a hormone the body needs to convert sugars, starches and other food into energy.
  • Although most prevalent in older adults, it is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents
  • About 19,000 young people are diagnosed with diabetes annually.
  • The vast majority have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease resulting from defects in the pancreas.
  • A smaller number of children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the type of diabetes that typically shows up in adulthood.
  • As obesity rates have increased among youth, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among children and adolescents also is rising, especially for children in ethnic and racial minorities.
  • Children with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of serious complications, including heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

NDEP is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The NDEP Guide, along with many other materials, is available on the NDEP website or by calling toll-free 1-888-693-NDEP (1-888-693-6337).