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Six Reasons to Attend Washington Hospitalís Diabetes Health Fair

November 11, 2011

November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and on Saturday, November 19 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, Washington Hospital’s Diabetes Center will sponsor a free Diabetes Health Fair open to all adults in the community. This is the fourth year for this important public health event and, if you’re wondering why you should go, here are six good reasons:

Reason #1: You may have diabetes or pre-diabetes and not know it. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. That’s 8.3 percent of the population. Of those, 7 million don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed.

As if that weren’t enough, 70 million more Americans have pre-diabetes, which puts them at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, if they don’t learn how to manage their condition. With pre-diabetes, a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that changes the way your body uses food. Normally, the insulin your body produces helps get sugar from the blood to the body’s cells, where it is used for energy. If you have diabetes, your body has trouble making and/or using insulin. So, your body doesn’t get the fuel it needs, and your blood sugar stays too high. At the Diabetes Health Fair, you will learn about different aspects of diabetes, including treatment and nutrition.

Reason #2: If you’re wondering whether you might have diabetes or pre-diabetes, there will be free blood glucose and cholesterol screening at the Health Fair. These simple tests can tell you if you are at risk for diabetes or high cholesterol, so you can get early treatment and avoid the long-term destructive effects of diabetes or heart disease.

“It’s important to remember that screenings are tools, not diagnostic tests, that show the risk for diabetes and high cholesterol. They provide a physician with information to determine if further testing is needed,” says Paulette Grilli, R.N., Health Promotion Manager at Washington Hospital. “A diagnostic test, on the other hand, provides the physician with information to treat the condition; for example, with drugs, lifestyle change, nutritional counseling and further testing.”

If you would like to have your glucose screened for diabetes at the Health Fair, you should know that you don’t need to fast (avoid eating) before having the test. You can eat before you come, and there will also be a light breakfast and some snacks available.

Reason #3: Speaking of food, another reason you should come to the Diabetes Health Fair is there will be a free cooking demonstration (and that may mean sampling)! Anna Mazzei, a clinical registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital, will conduct a food demonstration focusing on healthy, convenient meals with few ingredients that are easy to prepare. Mazzei will be joined by a Washington Hospital chef.

“We will be demonstrating and sharing recipes on how to control carbohydrates and fats in your diet,” explains Mazzei. “I’ll show you how to make recipe substitutions to create healthier meals. All of this is good for people with diabetes, but people without diabetes will also enjoy the foods we prepare. Hopefully, we will have enough for everyone to have a taste.”

Reason #4: Because education is one of the keys to preventing diabetes and managing the disease, if you have it. At the Diabetes Health Fair, Grilli will speak about “Positivity: A Positive Approach to Managing Diabetes.” She has been studying and using holistic nursing for 30 years and has developed strategies to engage the mind, body and energy, or spirit, to manage the whole person.

“It’s important to develop a positive mental attitude because the body is influenced and affected by the mind,” Grilli states. “I’m a firm believer that thoughts affect physical being and that education is the key to living a healthy life. 

For example, research has shown that depression and diabetes seem to have a close relationship in some people, although doctors don’t know which condition causes the other. If people improve their emotional condition or create a positive mental state, this seems to have a positive effect on their health, according to Grilli. She will talk more about this helpful topic at the Health Fair.

Reason #5: Many other interesting and useful services, activities and information will be available at the Diabetes Health Fair. That includes “ask the expert” sessions with an endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the endocrine system, such as diabetes) and a podiatrist who will meet with you one-on-one to answer your confidential health-related questions. In addition, there will be information on nutrition and community resources, and vendors will display and talk about diabetes-related products and services.

The final reason you should come to the Diabetes Health Fair: “Because Washington Hospital is committed to meeting the health education needs of our community,” says Ruth Traylor, the Hospital’s director of Community Outreach. “As people learn more, they are able to take a greater role in managing their own health.”

The free Diabetes Health Fair will be held in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium of the Washington West Building next to Washington Hospital at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont. To register for the event, visit www.whhs.com and click on Upcoming Health Seminars.