With November being American Diabetes Month, Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT) is providing the public with information on how to help prevent diabetes and how to help live an active lifestyle after being diagnosed with the condition.
American Diabetes Month, promoted by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), raises awareness of the increasing incidence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In fact, ADA statistics show that nearly 26 million American children and adults have diabetes, while another 79 million have pre-diabetes and consequently are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
"Unlike type 1, steps can be taken to reduce the risks of developing type 2 diabetes," said Jonathan Scheff, M.D., chief medical officer for Health Net. "Prevention is significant because diabetes can cause serious medical issues, including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputation and nerve damage."
Type 1 vs. Type 2
According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), type 1 - which is the more rare form of diabetes - occurs when the body produces little or no insulin, requiring daily injections of insulin. The NDEP notes that those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but their bodies don't properly use the insulin that's produced. People with type 2 - which is the most common form of diabetes - often need to take pills or insulin.
The ADA advises that a physician should be consulted if any of the following symptoms of diabetes are noticed:
Increased thirst or hunger;
Unusual weight loss;
Blurry vision from time to time;
Prevention is Proven
The NDEP points out that techniques such as losing weight and increasing physical activity can help those with pre-diabetes prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.
Recognizing the importance of prevention, Health Net created the Fit Families for Life - Be in Charge! Weight Control Program. Available to Health Net members, as well as to the public free of charge, Fit Families for Life is a multi-week program. It focuses on numerous nutrition and physical-activity topics that employ innovative approaches to childhood and family weight management issues. In addition, Health Net members with high Body Mass Index levels also are eligible for a personalized, telephone-based coaching program.
To lower the risk of developing diabetes and better manage the condition for those who've been diagnosed, the ADA recommends the following:
Eat a healthy diet - Choose foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and fibers, as well as those that are low in fat, salt and sugar. A balanced daily diet should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry and fish.
Exercise regularly - Engage in physical activity for 30 minutes per day, five days a week. Suggested activities include walking, dancing, swimming, gardening, aerobics and cycling.
"A positive aspect of diabetes is that it can be controlled," said Scheff. "And the complications associated with diabetes can be delayed or even prevented with good self-management skills, such as eating sensibly and exercising regularly. These aren't difficult steps to take, and they can make a tremendous difference in your health."