The first of November marked the beginning of National Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
A number of health outlets are teaming up with the community to bring awareness to this disease including the Florida A&M’s Student Health Services (SHS) Clinic and the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Diabetes Center.
For Diabetes Awareness Month, FAMU SHS plans to hold a diabetes information fair and will provide free blood sugar checks. Tanya Tatum, director of FAMU SHS, believes students can do a number of things to prevent diabetes.
“Students can become educated about the symptoms and the seriousness of the disease,” Tatum said. “Get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet. If you have a family history of diabetes, you should ask your physician to evaluate you for diabetes.”
FAMU SHS offers a Diabetes Education Class in collaboration with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Diabetes Center. The class is offered free to students and staff with diabetes.
“If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, you should keep regular appointments with your physician and follow their recommendations, and stay on your medication,” Tatum added.
Class participants can meet with a certified diabetes educator and a dietician to learn more about managing the disease. The class meets every third Thursday in FAMU’s health center conference room.
“I’ve learned a lot of information from these meetings,” said Daniel Warner, a sophomore criminal justice student from Gainesville. “I learn about maintaining my diabetes and making sure I very well versed when it comes to it.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, 23 percent of people with diabetes are age 60 and older. However, 11 percent of people ages 20 and older have diabetes. African Americans and Latinos have a higher incidence of diabetes than any other groups of Americans.
Chelsea Preston, a senior elementary education student at Florida State, believes learning all the facts about diabetes helped her cope when her dad was diagnosed with the disease almost 11 years ago.
“When my dad was diagnosed a couple of years ago it was scary,” Preston said. “I couldn’t imagine losing him. At first I thought having diabetes meant he was going to die young. But in reality it meant all of my family would have to change our eating habits and lifestyles.”
FAMU SHS will provide educational programs to residence halls during the month of November. For more information contact FAMU SHS at (850) 599-3777.