The statistics are alarming: in 1960 slightly less than 1% of the U.S. population was diagnosed with diabetes. By 1995 that rate had doubled to around 2% and today we are at 8%. If the trend continues on the same trajectory, by 2050, 30% of the population will be diagnosed with diabetes. (See Long-term trends in diabetes.)
This is a problem because diabetes—which occurs when blood sugar levels are way above normal—can cause serious health problems. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, diabetes contributes to heart disease, nerve damage, eye problems, and kidney disease.
Fortunately, most of us can take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes—which is what the majority of us get—can be prevented by making lifestyle changes that include improving nutrition, sleeping for seven to nine hours per 24-hour period, engaging in more physical activity, quitting tobacco use and better understanding how stress impacts us.
The goal is making changes that can be sustained. For example, programs supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are led by trained lifestyle coaches who help participants eat healthier, reduce stress and get more exercise. CDC supported programs, delivered in-person or online, also include group support from others so participants can set and identify struggles. (Watch “A Change for Life” video about a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program.)
It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change
All health plans in the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP) offer programs that fit the CDC model.
Those enrolled in HealthSelectSM of Texas and Consumer Directed HealthSelectSM have two lifestyle change programs to choose from: Naturally Slim® and Real Appeal®. These online programs are offered at no cost to eligible employees, spouses and dependents (18 and older) who have a BMI of 23 or higher. (You can be enrolled in only one program at a time.)
Each of the programs features online lessons and videos, along with a chance to interact with others through virtual real-time chats and message boards.
- Community First Health Plans offers an online health risk assessment (HRA) that gives participants a personalized plan for making healthy lifestyle changes. Read more.
- KelseyCare powered by Community Health Choice uses its electronic health records to identify and contact patients who may need help managing diabetes. The Kelsey Care program emphasizes both testing and lifestyle changes. Learn more.
- Scott and White Health Plan offers online wellness programs that focus on everything from managing your weight to dealing with stress to improving sleep habits.
The key to preventing type 2 diabetes is simple: take small, steady, sustainable steps to lose weight, get moving and adopt other health habits.