Diabetes & Fear

When talking about diabetes, it’s tempting to spout statistics. The numbers are scary, but will hearing scary statistics over and over cause the average American to take action so that they don’t become a statistic? Or will it overwhelm and scare them into not doing anything at all?

Of course, it’s important to get the message out there about diabetes. But maybe we can do a better job of helping some people by addressing this disease in a less intimidating way. Our new Type 2 Diabetes Risk Poster and matching tearpad can help you do just that. It’s very straightforward, providing:

  • A checklist of risk factors.
  • A chart with blood glucose/A1C levels for normal, prediabetes, and diabetes.
  • Three steps to prevent diabetes.
  • A statement about how high blood sugar can damage the body.

This information is basic but should spark people’s interest enough to get them to consider what step they need to take, whether it’s getting a blood glucose test or talking to their doctor or dietitian.

You could also use the information on this poster as the basis for a short class, group chat, or Facebook Live session discussing these three questions:

  1. Are you at risk of developing diabetes? How many of your risk factors are in your power to change?
  2. Do you know your blood glucose numbers (A1C, fasting, glucose tolerance test)? More importantly, do you know what they mean?
  3. What are you willing to do to prevent diabetes? Consider changes to your diet and exercise routine and modest weight loss.

You can follow up on the discussion with time for Q&A. Or simply ask participants to submit their questions, to be answered in a future session.

Be sure to end with a call to action. Ask participants to write down 1-3 things they will do based on what they’ve learned. Will they make an appointment to find out their glucose numbers? Take a walk after dinner every night? Calculate 5-7 percent of their body weight and use this number as a weight loss goal?

Above all, encourage folks to visit their doctor and get a blood glucose/A1C test – even if they’re afraid to learn that they have diabetes. Remind them that knowledge is power, and power is better than fear!

Make the Most of Biometric Screenings

It seems like lots of companies do biometric screenings for their employees these days. It’s a great way to give people a snapshot of their health. But knowing those numbers doesn’t help if they don’t understand what they mean. We have two handouts that can help – the Biometrics Screening Tool Handout Tearpad and the Printable Biometrics Form PDF.

On one side of these handouts, there’s space to record BMI, waist circumference, hemoglobin A1C, blood glucose, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol (including total, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides). On the other side, there’s a glossary with easy-to-understand descriptions of each measurement.

Individual instructions or goals can be written in the space on the bottom left of side one. If you use the printable PDF form, you can add a logo or message before printing.

Here are 10 ideas for lessons and messages to use with the Biometrics Screening handouts:

  1. A biometric screening provides a snapshot of your health. These numbers tell where you’re doing well and areas that need attention.
  2. Manage these numbers by being more active, eating more lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and eating less high fat, high sugar processed foods.
  3. If you’re missing any measurements, take the handout to your doctor and ask to have blood tests or other measurements done.
  4. Calculate your BMI using the formula on the handout, or search online for “BMI calculator” and plug in your height and weight. If your BMI falls in the overweight or obesity categories, losing even a relatively small amount of weight can improve your health.
  5. Waist circumference can tell you a lot, but many physicians don’t take this measurement. Use the instructions on this handout to measure your own waist circumference (or ask someone to help you). If it’s 40+ inches (for men) or 35+ inches (for for women), your risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure increases.
  6. Hemoglobin A1C measures your blood glucose (or blood sugar) over the past few months. Normal is less than 5.7%; prediabetes is 5.7% to 6.4%; and diabetes is 6.5% or higher. The higher the number, the greater your risk of diabetes-related complications.
  7. Blood glucose (or blood sugar) is sometimes measured after you’ve fasted. Normal is less than 100; prediabetes is 100-125; and diabetes is 126 or higher. If you haven’t fasted, a blood glucose of 200 or more indicates diabetes.
  8. Blood pressure measurements are given as two numbers (top is systolic, bottom is diastolic). Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. If your blood pressure is above normal, check the categories on the handout to see where you fall.
  9. Cholesterol isn’t just one number! Keep track of your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL), as well as triglycerides, which are a type of fat found in the blood.
  10. When your biometrics are out of the normal range, your risk increases for diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Knowing your numbers gives you something to track besides just a number on the scale.

Display our Measuring Your Biometrics poster or banner at health fairs and screenings. People can compare their biometric results to normal or optimal numbers based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.