MAXTON — The class is called Everyone with Diabetes Counts. The organizers, St. Matthews Metropolitan AME Zion Church’s Health and Wellness Ministry in collaboration with the National Association of University Women Robeson/Scotland Branch, were hard pressed to count men among the 12 or so women attending a recent event at Gilbert Patterson Memorial Library.
“We need to get our men involved in their health,” said Francine McLaurin, a retired registered nurse and local health coordinator for St. Matthews. “Even getting my husband to go to the doctor is a struggle. I can’t force him to come to these events if he doesn’t want to.” The final class was held Thursday.
The six-week course is working to improve health outcomes and reduce issues of health disparities among people with diabetes. The aim is to teach people about the human body, knowing their body, proper nutrition, complications of diabetes, medications and how to limit stress. Diabetes affects the way your body handles glucose or sugar in your blood.
Half of Americans either have diabetes or are on the way to getting it, according to a recent study. About 40 percent of Americans have prediabetes (where blood glucose is not normal but not high enough to be diabetes yet).
Health officials say as the U.S. population has grown older and heavier, the number of people who are having trouble controlling their blood sugar will increase.
Twenty years ago about one in 10 adults had diabetes while now the number is closer to one in 7. Another 38 percent — 86 million individuals — have a blood sugar sufficiently elevated to put them on the cusp of that diagnosis, a risk category known as prediabetes.
At the library session, the focus was on proper diets and how to regulate blood sugar if it gets too low.
Many of the attendees said they took the course as a way to take charge of their diabetes, support a loved one or to gain information to take back to their families.
“I am here because I have been messing up bad on taking care of my diabetes,” Margaret Gilchrist of Maxton said.
For Helen McPhatter, who has had diabetes since 1994, she came as a refresher because “everyone messes up sometimes.” “I lost a daughter to diabetes, she had kidney failure,” McPhatter said.
According to last year’s diabetes statistics from the State of the County Health Report-Scotland County, diabetes ranks as the fourth leading cause of death in the county. From 2010-2014 there was a total of 91 diabetes related deaths on Scotland County.
The most important thing on a food label is the serving size, according to Alliant Quality, the health agency providing the training. One of the easiest food items to eat too much of is dressings like ranch, because one ounce is one serving and it is easy to go over that measurement, officials said.
For diabetics who crave chocolate, health officials said to try chocolate milk because it contains less sugar than a chocolate bar.
To regulate low-blood sugar, raw sugar and specifically orange juice were stressed the most. The natural sugar in orange juice brings blood sugar levels up quickly, however, in order to sustain a healthy level, diabetics should consume peanut butter for protein. The protein helps maintain sugar level because it takes longer to break down, according to Alliant Quality.