For many families across the country, warm weather means time spent with family – whether it’s backyard cookouts, picnics at the park or family vacations. These events are a time for families to reconnect and reflect on traditions. Family functions are also a time to talk about family health.
In the United States, all too often a family’s health history includes prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes is a condition that affects 96 million American adults – more than 1 in 3 – and means that a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough yet for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Prediabetes affects some communities more than others. For example, Asian Americans are 10% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when compared with the rest of the population. What’s more, they are at risk for diabetes at a lower body mass index – a ratio of height to weight – than other Americans. The good news is prediabetes can often be reversed with a healthy diet and more physical activity.
When spending time with family this summer, think about ways you can get healthier together. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Prepare healthier food for barbeques and picnics. It’s not summer without backyard barbeques and cookouts! Serve healthy options such as fruits, vegetables, and low-sugar and low-calorie beverages.
- Check out farmers markets and make trips to “pick-your-own” farms and orchards. Kids may be more likely to try new foods they pick themselves. Plus, the whole family can get in more activity. This list of farmers markets in South King County will help you plan your shopping trip.
- Get the family moving. Head outside for a game of soccer, basketball, softball, or for a good, brisk family walk. Check out local parks and trails in our local adventures guide. If you want to stay inside, play an active video game or have a dance party! Here are a few playlists created by Valley staff for team events to get your dance party started. If your family goes on vacation, incorporate opportunities to walk to, around, or between sites.
- Accountability works. Encourage family members to pick a “health buddy” who they can talk to when they feel like they’re slipping into unhealthy behaviors or when they want to celebrate a health win. Texting a family member after completing a workout or when a dessert craving hits can be just what they need to stay on track.
Start a conversation about prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
It’s not always easy to bring up a topic like prediabetes, but it sure is important – more than 80 percent of people with prediabetes don’t even know they have it. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 1-minute online test asks a few simple questions about your health, including how active you are, whether you have a family history of diabetes, and how much you weigh. Then the website tallies your points for whether you’re likely to have prediabetes and might be at high risk for type 2 diabetes.
If you have a high-risk score, you’ll want to discuss with your primary care provider (PCP). Your PCP might refer you to a program like the Diabetes Prevention Program at Valley’s Lifestyle Medicine Clinics and YMCA’s in our area. The Diabetes Prevention Program is a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program that can help you learn ways to lower your chances for getting type 2 diabetes.
Summer is a time to have fun with family, but it’s also a time to help take care of them. Encourage family members at risk for type 2 diabetes to understand their risk and learn that they can prevent or delay it if they take steps to change their lifestyle. Help them get started today!
Content adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Diabetes Prevention Program Toolkit