Dining With Diabetes
Two-thirds of all deaths in West Virginia can be attributed to the chronic diseases of heart disease (32%), cancer (23.5%), and stroke (6.8%). Additionally, diabetes is a common, serious, and costly disease in West Virginia. Since 1994, the incidence of diabetes in our state has increased almost 20% and affects nearly 25% of those over 65 years of age. It is estimated that another 3% of WV adults have diabetes but do not know it. West Virginia ranks 11th out of 50 states in diabetes prevalence. Putnam County families are part of these alarming statistics.
Each of these diseases has risk factors that could be reduced through lifestyle changes. This includes the adoption of health promotion practices related to nutrition, exercise, and the use of tobacco products plus participation in health screening programs. As an extension educator, I play a key role in the dissemination of timely and factual information on risk reduction strategies for these diseases. The major emphasis in Putnam County for 2004 in promoting the physical health and well-being of families is nutrition education for youth, physical activity for older adults, diabetes education for adults, and diabetes education for health professionals.
Diabetes Education ~ For People and their Caregivers
Diabetes is a frequent, costly, and devastating disease. Its toll in West Virginia as well as the rest of the United States and other countries strains our already limited resources. Diabetes affects more than 25% OF West Virginians by the time they reach age 65. Women and African Americans are more frequently affected than other groups.
In Putnam County, where a large portion of the population is of retirement age, the prevalence of diabetes is 4.3%. This means, according to the latest statistics available, in a year’s time an estimated 1,700 adults were told by a doctor that they have diabetes. It is also estimated that another 3% of West Virginia adults have diabetes and do not know it.
The direct and indirect costs of diabetes are staggering. The human cost, expressed in complications such as blindness, amputations, kidney failure, impotence, heart disease, and stock is overwhelming. Managing diabetes through diet, medication, and exercise can help control the complications of this chronic disease. This is why the “Dining with Diabetes” Cooking School program is so critical to the well-being of Putnam County and West Virginia families.
The diabetes cooking school program is grant funded and free of charge to participants.
In September 2003, a clinical component was added to this diabetes education program. People with diabetes now have an A1C test and blood pressure check at session one and the three month follow-up reunion. Partnering with healthy professionals and having the support of the local Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS) volunteers make this diabetes education program happen.
Diabetes Education for Health Professionals
Health educators know the importance of keeping “on top” of the latest research concerning the management of diabetes and getting this vital information to the people afflicted with this chronic disease and their families. For this and other reasons, the West Virginia University Extension Service and the West Virginia Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences offers a conference on diabetes education targeting health professionals.