McPherson Hospital Helps to Fight Diabetes


By Managing Editor Teri L. Hansen

Starting on Jan. 20, 2020, McPherson Hospital will host a weekly class on preventing one of the largest growing health concerns in the country. More than 100 million Americans is living with diabetes or prediabetes at this time. From 7 to 8 p.m. on certain Mondays, the hospital will host a class on diabetes prevention.

“I was familiar with the Diabetes Prevention Program because of the clinical results that were published. When the Centers for Disease Control began overseeing programs to replicate the results (5-10% weight loss resulting in a 58% reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes), I approached hospital administration and asked if we could start a program here,” McPherson Hospital Licensed Dietician Suzanne Fleming said. “That was in the fall of 2016, and we’ll be starting our sixth class in January. I co-teach with a registered nurse.”

The class is in a group format that will meet 25 times. Initially it will be every other week and then slow down to monthly.

Initially we’ll meet weekly, then every other week, then monthly for the last 3 months.

“We emphasize healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, and behavior modification,” Fleming said. “In other words, how to make healthy choices in the midst of crazy-busy lives, or when it’s tempting to revert back to old eating habits.”

The class is $175 though that can be covered by Medicare and some private insurances. Those in attendance must have a prediabetes diagnosis or be at high-risk of type 2 diabetes and a body mass index of over 25.

“Every year we have people want to join the class who already have diabetes, and unfortunately their data won’t count,” Fleming said. “The whole purpose is to prevent type 2 diabetes.  However, spouses or significant others are welcome to attend the classes along with someone with prediabetes and receive all of the same information.  If people want to know if they have prediabetes, they should see their doctor.”

The DDP will accept one of the following criteria:

Fasting blood glucose between 100-125 (or if they have Medicare, between 110-125)

Hgb A1c between 5.7-6.4

A woman who was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during a prior pregnancy.

While some progress has been made in diabetes management and prevention, according to the CDC more than a third of U.S. adults have prediabetes and many don’t know. This class aims to reduce that number and more.

“Reducing their risk of type 2 diabetes is one benefit, and the surprising thing is that the weight loss goals are only 5-10%; most people think they need to lose a lot more than that to be ‘successful.’  And some people do lose more in the program, but we focus on the health benefits that result from that and how they feel,” Fleming said.  “The class benefits anyone with prediabetes who needs support, encouragement and accountability to help them with their healthy lifestyle goals. We teach nutrition education but the benefit of having a group of people going through the same thing is invaluable; we learn from each other, and because we meet for a whole year there’s a camaraderie that forms.  We genuinely have fun and enjoy each other’s company.”

The class teaches nutrition education, healthy lifestyle choices, exercise options and positive eating habits. Each significant in not only the fight against diabetes, but overall wellness.

“My goal is to help people improve their health and wellness and improve their relationship with food.  I don’t want people to be afraid of food or feel guilty for eating certain things.  My goal is for people to be comfortable in knowing what is good for them, how to shop/prepare healthy food, and then how to balance eating less-healthy food because it’s unrealistic to expect people never to eat out or have dessert again,” Fleming said. “We teach them how to listen to hunger and fullness cues, how to savor their food so they enjoy it more but eat less of it, and ultimately graduate from the program with the tools they need to continue a healthy lifestyle and feel good about it.”

Diabetes in no longer a problem for a select few or a certain demographic or age.

In recent years statistics on diabetes include:

132,000 children and adolescents younger than age 18 years (0.18% of the total U.S. population younger than age 18 years).

193,000 children and adolescents younger than age 20 years (0.24% of the total U.S. population younger than age 20 years).

About 5% of people with diabetes are estimated to have type 1 diabetes.

This is a problem that can’t afford to be ignored. Risk factors for diabetes include smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose.

“Changing to a healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen by accident; you can’t passively wish for weight loss or expect bad habits to change without effort,” Fleming said. “It requires deliberate actions and a plan; the class helps people through this process.”

For questions or concerns contact Suzanne Fleming or 620-241-2251, ext. 179.

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