November is National Diabetes Month, and I wanted to take the time to share how important prevention is and why it has been identified as a top health priority in our community. In 2010, diabetes affected an estimated 25.8 million people, or 8.3% of the population; however, 7 million of those cases went undiagnosed. Also in 2010, nearly 27% of U.S. adults aged 65 and older (10.9 million people) had diabetes, and 1.9 million people aged 20 and older were newly diagnosed with diabetes. In 2011, 429,000 Missourians, or 9.4% of the state’s population, had diabetes. For the majority of the past 10 years the rate of deaths due to diabetes has been higher in Independence than in the state of Missouri, and hospitalizations due to diabetes have consistently been higher for Independence than for Missouri as a whole.
As a community we can be proactive in prevention of this disease by adopting a few simple steps. We can make small changes in our diet, increase our physical activity and work towards maintaining a healthy weight.
It can seem hard to make healthy food choices, particularly if you are on a budget and short on time. But there are some simple steps you can take to help you and your family eat healthier. Below are a few healthy tips to get you started, choose one to start with, and then come back for more.
· Build a Healthy Plate- choose leaner meats such as chicken, turkey and lean cuts of pork; look for low fat dairy products when it comes to purchasing yogurt and milk and stick to whole grains when consuming breads and cereals.
· Shop Smart- Have a plan! Set aside time to make a grocery list, this may seem time consuming at first but will save time, stress and countless trips to the grocery store. Once you have this plan, stick to it.
· Eat Smart- Make healthy snack foods easy to find in your kitchen. For example, when you get home from work or school, put some fresh carrots, grapes, or pretzels out on the counter instead of a bag of chips.
In addition to making changes in our diets, we can also be more physically active to combat the onset of diabetes. Through the Building a Healthier Independence grant initiative, we are aiming to make it more safe and convenient to be physically active. A good program to get involved in is The Mile Starts Here walking program, this is a one-mile walking program that rotates through Independence parks and trails that meets every Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. We also offer a variety of aerobic and exercise classes at the Sermon Center and Truman Memorial Building. For a listing of these activities, visit www.ci.independence.mo.us/ParksAndRec/ActivitiesPrograms.aspx.
Last but not least, we need to work to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It can cause other problems, too, like high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, and high blood glucose. Just losing 10-15 pounds can make a huge difference on preventing the onset of diabetes. To get started with a weight loss, always set a goal and then work towards it by taking small steps. Cut back on calories and fat, eat breakfast every day, be active and start keeping a food journal. By keeping a food journal, it can keep you on track and allows you to see your progress on paper.
By adopting just a few changes in our everyday lives, we can dramatically decrease our chances of developing diabetes. If you would like more information on where to find healthier foods or places to be physically active visit www.BuildingAHealthierIndependence.org.
*Information from the 2011 Community Health Assessment and The American Diabetes Association