January 22, 2018
Topic: Human Resources
One in three American adults is on the road to developing type 2 diabetes. And nine times out of 10, they don't know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That's why MHealthy and the Benefits Office are teaming up to encourage every faculty and staff member to take a one-minute prediabetes risk test to start off a healthy 2018.
People with prediabetes have higher than normal blood sugar, but have not yet developed type 2 diabetes. Many will progress to diabetes within five years. Prediabetes also raises the risk of other health problems like heart attack and stroke.
But progression to diabetes can often be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes.
Research supported by the National Institutes of Health found that losing a modest amount of weight, increasing activity and eating a healthy diet can cut the risk of diabetes in half. William Herman, professor of epidemiology and internal medicine and associate director of the Michigan Diabetes Research Center, was a co-investigator on the study.
Many people with prediabetes show no symptoms. Family history, age, weight, gender and physical activity all contribute to overall risk.
A simple test developed by the CDC screens for these risk factors in just one minute. The screener is available online or through MHealthy wellness champions.
"We encourage every member of our community to spend a minute looking at their diabetes risk this month," said Preeti Malani, the university's chief health officer. "Based on the prevalence in the general population, more than 10,000 of our faculty and staff could be living with prediabetes. And the vast majority probably don't know it."
Anyone who scores five or higher on the quiz is likely to have prediabetes and would benefit from talking with their health care provider about follow-up testing.
"It can be difficult to prioritize your health when you have a demanding schedule, like so many of our faculty and staff. But here's something that's evidence-based and only takes a minute," said Martin Philbert, provost and former dean of the School of Public Health.
"Prediabetes poses a challenge because it's so widespread. But it also presents an opportunity: if you find out that you have the condition, you can do something about it."
Since 2015, more than 500 individuals have participated in a diabetes-prevention program covered by U-M Premier Care. After six months, participants report losing weight and increasing their physical activity by more than two hours per week.
"My favorite moment occurs three to four months into the program," said Joyce Patterson, a Michigan Medicine nutrition specialist and diabetes prevention program facilitator. "Our participants start going back to their doctors and seeing their numbers come down and their cholesterol improving, in addition to weight loss."
For faculty, staff and family members who want to reduce prediabetes-related risks but don't have Premier Care, MHealthy offers a range of programs and resources focused on physical activity, nutrition and weight management.